Local businessman Jeff Thompson has become the latest developer with a plan for the city-owned building outside Joliet Route 66 Stadium.
Thompson is no stranger to the building – sometimes called the “Stadium Club,” but once a car dealership for the old American Motors Corp.
“It’s a unique building,” Thompson told the Joliet City Council Economic Development Committee last week. “My father worked there when he was 16 years old – parking cars.”
The committee gave city staff approval to negotiate a redevelopment agreement for the building with Thompson.
It would be the second redevelopment agreement for the city since a previous developer’s plans fell through.
Thompson said he has a letter of intent from a business interested in putting an Italian restaurant in the 141 E. Jefferson St. building. Retail space and apartments also would go in the 18,000-square-foot building.
The plan is similar to a previous proposal that would have put a coffee shop on the first floor.
Thompson said he is familiar with the issues involved in trying to finance redevelopment of the building. The cost of renovations will be more than the value of the building itself, he said. But Thompson said he believes he has a couple of banks willing to consider future cash flow into a loan.
Thompson has redeveloped several other older buildings. One of his buildings is the former Cornolo building on the corner of Ninth and State streets in downtown Lockport.
Thompson acquired the Cornolo Agency insurance business in 2005 and developed it into Northern Insurance Service, which now is based in Joliet.
The Stadium Club, a name attached to the building by city workers when Joliet acquired the property while building Joliet Route 66 Stadium, is located just beyond the ballpark’s right-field wall.
The city’s previous development agreement for the building would turn the property over to the developer once $300,000 worth of improvements were made. The same agreement was created for the downtown Crabigale’s building, which the city owns.