Executives with Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group on Monday laid out the company’s plans for a haunted house at the Old Joliet Prison.
“We’re excited about the project,” Chief Executive Officer Chris Stafford said. “There aren’t a whole lot of prisons out there that we can have access to.”
Denver, Colorado-based Thirteenth Floor has haunted houses and other horror-themed amusements in 12 cities that draw 825,000 visitors a year, according to the presentation made to the Joliet City Council Prison Committee.
The company expects to draw about 20,000 visitors in its first year of business in Joliet and hopes to double that in subsequent years.
The committee voted, 3-0, to recommend a development agreement with Thirteenth Floor that will go to the City Council for approval next week.
The development agreement provides Thirteenth Floor with a three-year lease in which it would pay $20,000 the first year, $25,000 the second and $30,000 the third. A revenue-sharing provision gives Joliet $1 a guest over 10,000 in attendance the first year and $1 a guest in the following two years.
Stafford said the company would begin construction work as soon as possible if the agreement is approved, with plans to open the haunted house in mid-September.
Thirteenth Floor would use the former women’s prison, which is located across Collins Street from the main prison. Evil Intentions, a haunted house operator in Elgin, had planned to open a haunted house there in 2018, but was unable to line up financing.
Nick Truini, vice president of finance for Thirteenth Floor, said the company expects to spend $500,000 to renovate the building for the haunted house and other possibilities.
“The important thing for everyone to understand is this has happened with us before,” Truini told the committee.
The company plans to run a year-round business.
Thirteenth Floor also runs escape rooms and ax-throwing bars.
“We also operate a fall family-friendly event called Jack’s Pumpkin Glow,” Stafford said.
Jack’s Pumpkin Glow was in Lisle last year. Thirteenth Floor also has a haunted house in Melrose Park.
Stafford said the company is looking at other possibilities at the Old Joliet Prison, including ghost tours, beer and wine festivals, concerts, a themed bar and overnight stays that he dubbed “Dead and Breakfast.”