The Joliet Prison Committee at its meeting Tuesday reviewed the revenue generated through events hosted at the old Joliet prison over the last year.
Since opening up the prison this past summer, the committee has seen a number of events become a reality.
“We’re excited about what we’re going to segue way this into,” said Greg Peerbolte, executive director for Joliet Area Historical Museum. “This year, we learned we have the demand. Now, we want to intelligently increase the supply. This year was about assessing our demand.”
Among the events to note this year were the Joliet Area Historical Museum prison tours, Chicago Hauntings paranormal prison tours, inparcerated disc golf tournament and the inaugural Great Joliet Prison Break-In fundraiser.
A presentation to the Joliet Prison Committee showed the revenues collected by each event.
The Joliet Area Historical Museum prison tours brought in 1,576 attendees enabling the generation of $28,805 and $12,295 in admission and merchandise revenues.
Chicago Haunting’s paranormal prison tours drew in between 1,450 and 1,500 participants to generate $15,000.
The inparcerated disc golf tournament enabled the museum to bring in 215 participants to record a total net revenue of $5,673.
The Great Joliet Prison Break-In fundraiser netted $137,000 toward capital improvement revenues.
“We’re very happy with the numbers,” Peerbolte said. “We expect to see them increase next year.”
Peerbolte said the museum hopes to schedule its tours 3 to 4 times per week next time around.
Officials would like to resume their efforts to host events at the old Joliet prison as early as April 2019.
2019 restoration, stabilization priorities discussed
Also at the meeting, officials took time for discussion of 2019 restoration and stabilization priorities.
“The goal for accumulating all these revenues is then to start that process of sustainability, making sure that when we have sufficient funds to increase what it is we’re opening up for tours and make sure that some of the buildings that have some problems with stabilization are preserved,” Deputy City Manager Steve Jones said.
Jones acknowledged that officials have funding to start efforts to prepare the old Joliet prison for 2019 and said it’s important to show the public how their dollars are used.
A presentation to the Joliet Prison Committee lists several priorities identified as having a need for improvements. Among capital needs to note are roofing, plumbing and electricity.
Officials also intend to work on meeting the standards set forth by Americans with Disabilities Act.
Jones acknowledged that officials may not be able to complete everything identified as a capital improvement need.
“Everything was vandalized, and in effect, we’re starting from scratch,” Jones said.
Chairwoman Bettye Gavin said the list appears to address all of the concerns she would view as priorities.
Officials are relying, in part, on the money raised for prison preservation and donated labor and/or materials.
Grant funding update
After getting the green light in August to release a request for proposal for the Joliet Prison West site and its restoration and preservation efforts, officials have been reviewing possible projects.
“Each of their firms—either on their own or through their sub consultants—had some incredible historic structures,” Jones said.
Officials have narrowed down the list of potential firms from 8 to 5.
A recommendation will come before the Joliet Prison Committee at its December meeting.
Officials had received word this past spring they are the recipients of a grant from the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency for a conditions analysis and structural assessment.
Jones wanted it to be clear the intent is to strive for greater occupancy or take the sustained-ruin approach as it regards the Joliet Prison West site.
The city council is anticipated to make a decision on the matter as early as its second December meeting.
Plans for Joliet Prison East needed
Officials are seeking an interested party to redevelop the Joliet Prison East site.
A request for statement of redevelopment interest was released in October.
Officials want to identify what vendors are out there.
The deadline to submit a statement of redevelopment interest is Dec. 14.
“We’re hoping that we get folks talking to us,” Jones said.
Evil Intentions and its plans for the site fell through earlier this year. The Joliet City Council repealed that deal in recent months.
Officials intend to seek formal proposals at a later date.
“Whether this means we will have something in that building by what’s called Halloween season, I don’t know,” Jones said. “I can’t guarantee that. Because if we’re going to do it right, speed isn’t necessarily your top first priority. … We’re giving it a second shot.”