The developer of Rock Run Crossings said Friday that the project will get “national attention” as Cullinan Properties converts 265 acres at the intersection of Interstate 55 and Interstate 80 into stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels, offices, homes and more.
Cullinan held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project, although none of the proposed attractions are being built yet.
The developer plans to begin grading land this spring before laying infrastructure and building roads for what could resemble a small city if built as planned.
“This is not only a big project for Joliet but for Illinois and for the nation,” Diane Cullinan Oberhelman, chairman of the board for Cullinan Properties, said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “This will receive national attention and put Joliet, additionally, on the map.”
Cullinan Oberhelman said the Joliet project will get widespread attention because of its size and the kind of tenants Cullinan expects it to attract.
So far, only one tenant has been announced – Regal Cinema.
The plan is to build a 70,000-square-foot theater with 16 screens and new technology such as 4DX auditoriums that can simulate special effects such as wind, storms and scents.
One Cullinan executive called it “a Disney experience coming to Joliet.”
Oberhelman said Cullinan Properties expects Rock Run Crossings to become a regional destination point because of the attractions that will be developed.
“We think the radius will be over 100 miles for the various entertainment groups as well as the theater,” she said.
Just what will be built there and when, however, still is hazy.
Even as it announced plans for Regal Cinema, described as one of the anchor developments for Rock Run Crossings, Cullinan Properties did not provide a construction timetable for the theater.
But Cullinan CEO Chris West said the developer plans to begin construction on buildings next year.
The project still depends on a new interchange to provide interstate access, but West said interchange construction is expected to begin next year as well.
The state has not yet committed money to build the interchange but has been funding engineering for the project. West said Cullinan Properties has been working with state officials as the developer makes its own plans for Rock Run Crossings.
“We have an understanding and an estimated time frame [state officials] have given us,” he said.
Just as the project is seen as a major development by the city of Joliet, Oberhelman said state officials also see Rock Run Crossings as a sign of “positive progress” in the Illinois economy.
She said Cullinan Properties is working with potential tenants that “are opening locations around the world.”
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk has described Rock Run Crossings as a “game changer” for Joliet because of the types of attractions it will bring.
“The quality of what is coming to this site is something that is different for Joliet,” O’Dekirk said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Rock Run Crossings also will be a big boost to the local economy with projections that it will generate 8,000 construction jobs while being built and 5,000 permanent jobs when it is done.
West said the development will be built on a live-work-play model providing residences and business office as well as stores, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.
“Mixed use, we think, is the recipe for success,” he said.
West said more tenants will be announced throughout the year.