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Local News

Kmart redevelopment plan would bring min-warehouses to Joliet's busiest intersection

The former Kmart building can be seen Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, at Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue in Joliet, Ill.
The former Kmart building can be seen Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, at Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue in Joliet, Ill.

A developer plans to convert the former Kmart store at Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue into a mini-warehouse, storage and retail complex with the possibility of attracting a grocery store and restaurant.

The grocery store is not a sure thing.

But Next Door Self-Storage does want to build up to 144,000 square feet of storage space for more than 800 units at the site, according to the staff report on the plan that requires city approval.

The amount of storage space would go down if the developer is successful in attracting a grocery store, according to the report..

"The proposal for the Kmart building is 60% retail and 40 percent indoor storage," said Joliet attorney Micheal Hansen, who represents the developer. "I'm very hopeful that 60% will be filled by a grocery chain. We're working on that now."

The Kmart building is 97,000 square feet. It stands on a 10.6-acre site developed in a day when Kmart was a new and booming retail chain.

The plans submitted to the city provide for nearly 62,000 square feet of the building to be converted to two stories of storage space with about 35,000 square feet being set aside for retail. But those plans would change if the developer can attract a 60,00-square-foot grocer, according to the staff report.

Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission on Thursday will review the plans, which require a special use permit for the storage space and approval of a Planned Unit Development for redevelopment of the property.

The plans allow for either one or two restaurants depending on whether a grocery is built.

No users have been identified for the grocery store or restaurants, according to the staff report.

Another 21,000 square feet of space would be developed in the parking lot for 66 mini-storage units, according to the plan.

The intersection is the busiest in the city. But the Kmart space, which includes an immense parking lot, has been empty since the retailer shut down in late 2016.

The parking lot was said to be able to accommodate a thousand cars when the Kmart opened in 1965, the 98th store in retailer chain's third year of business. Since then, some of the parking space has been taken up by the White Castle restaurant and Circle K gas station built along Jefferson Street.

Hansen said the storage space is needed to redevelop the site.

"Retail in today's world is very difficult," he said. "If this were not be successful, that spot will be vacant for another five years."

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