Mayor Bob O’Dekirk gave a taste of things to come for the future Rock Run Crossings when he announced a 17-screen, 4,000-seat movie theater on Monday.
O’Dekirk at his annual State of the City address also said CenterPoint Properties is ready to start construction on the Houbolt Road bridge in May.
The theater, however, is not as imminent as it appeared when the mayor announced it in conjunction with a March 22 groundbreaking at Rock Run Crossings.
“This is a high-end development coming to Joliet,” O’Dekirk said, describing the future Regal Cinemas theater as “cutting edge.”
The first business under construction would be a benchmark moment for the 265-acre project at Interstates 55 and 80, which has been planned by two different developers since 2007.
A spokeswoman for developer Cullinan Properties, however, later said the groundbreaking is ceremonial and does not mark the start of construction for the theater or any other building at the site.
Spokeswoman Anaise Berry said there is not a timetable for theater construction, although it may come later this summer.
Cullinan does have a signed lease with Regal Cinemas, Berry said.
“Regal Cinemas will be at least one of the entertainment anchors at Rock Run Crossings,” she said.
Getting a signed lease is “very important” for the project because it serves as a signal to other businesses considering locations at Rock Run Crossings, Berry said.
“We’ve got a lot of prospects that are waiting for this anchor to be official,” she said.
Cullinan and the city, however, still are trying to get state support for an expanded interchange needed to provide direct access to the site. Berry would not comment on whether the Regal Cinemas lease is dependent on interchange construction.
Houbolt Road bridge
The mayor also announced that construction is scheduled to start in May on the future Houbolt Road bridge, another high-profile project that has been in the works for nearly three years.
Construction timetables have been pushed back a couple of times on the project.
O’Dekirk said the latest hurdle, a lawsuit from BNSF Railway, has been resolved. CenterPoint Properties plans to begin building the bridge in May and complete it by the summer of 2021.
The bridge will span the Des Plaines River, creating a direct connection between the CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Joliet and I-80.
The project is seen as one way to relieve the amount of semitrailer traffic going onto local roads. O’Dekirk in his speech described the bridge as one answer but not the final solution for area traffic issues.
O’Dekirk noted that the project had been in the works before he took office in 2015, but he made it a priority to push it forward.
“When I became mayor, this is one of the first issues I tackled,” he said.
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner joined O’Dekirk and other officials in Joliet in July 2016 to announce the project with plans to begin construction the following year. The bridge is being built by CenterPoint Properties at a cost estimated at $160 million.
“It will be the single biggest private investment in the city’s history,” O’Dekirk said in his speech.
CenterPoint Properties could not be reached to confirm the construction dates. But company CEO Michael Murphy earlier this month said the lawsuit was close to being resolved and he hoped to make an announcement by late February.
O’Dekirk hailed the project as an example of getting something done about traffic issues that have come with logistics development.
“We’re not bystanders,” he said.
“We’re not complaining and whining about what’s happening,” O’Dekirk said. “We’re taking the lead.”