John Bays plans to convert the top two floors of the 2 Rialto Square Building into apartments.
Bays acquired the building at 116 N. Chicago St. in late 2018 and has renovated office space on the first four floors.
The top two floors of the building would be converted into 20 apartments, according to the plan presented to the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals last week.
"I'm planning on building upscale apartments," Bays told the zoning board Thursday. "I'm trying to attract attorneys – people who work downtown and want to live downtown.
The plan is for 18 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments.
Monthly rents would likely range between $1,100 to $1,500, Bays said.
The zoning board approved variances and a special use permit for the project. The special use permit will require final approval from the City Council.
The city has been receptive to the redevelopment project, approving property tax incentives in 2019.
At that time, Bays had tentative plans to use the top two floors for a hotel, one of three hotel plans that have been called off or stalled since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
But the city's downtown economic development plans in general have called for more residential units based on the idea that more residents will attract and sustain business.
Bays plans a restaurant in one section of the building last occupied in 2017 by Gallery Seven.
"I'm trying to get a nice, name restaurant to bring the people from the West Side downtown," he told the zoning board.
Bays also is negotiating with the city for possible purchase of the nearby Scott Street parking deck. Whether or not he acquires the deck, which is near the building, Bays said he has parking downtown for future apartment residents.
The building was property of the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, which oversees the Rialto Square Theatre. The authority put the building up for sale when it was unable to keep up with maintenance and was losing office tenants.