The Joliet City Council this week advanced plans to re-work the Chicago Street Corridor.
The project involves the redesign of the streetscape of Chicago Street from Ruby Street to Washington Street and the creation of new green space in the downtown.
The city of Joliet has worked with Gingko Planning and Design and community stakeholders over the last one-and-a-half years to make this possible.
Currently, the corridor spans approximately 11.5 blocks.
The city at this time is in the conceptual phase of the project. A final design for the corridor is not yet available.
The next phase of the project involves design development in which the city will dive into what materials and colors will be used. Joliet will need to budget for this in the next budget cycle.
“The concept lays out some of the rooms and uses for the spaces, but it doesn’t get into the details,” said Michael Schwarz, director of planning for the city of Joliet. “That would be the next step.”
The following step deals with phase one engineering and design documents.
Schwarz likened this phase of the project to a blueprint.
Items of note proposed for the Chicago Street Corridor Plan are raised intersections, gathering spaces, lighting, new trees, planters, shared bike lanes, a splash pad and an ice rink.
Joliet envisions incorporating an iconic piece of art within the plaza, as well.
“This plaza is roughly the scale of Millennium [Park] where The Bean is located,” Schwarz said. “We would probably down the road want to commission a large public art piece and that could be with naming rights.”
Joliet wants the corridor to serve as a gathering place for festivals and events.
In years past, events held in Joliet have brought in between 9-10,000 people.
“This [plan] is sort of formalizing that space to be one of the most special places in Joliet,” Schwarz said.
Schwarz hopes the city will be able to set aside funding to satisfy this aim.
“We want [people] to get out of their car and make this a must-stop destination for people traveling through Joliet,” Schwarz said.
The total estimated cost of the plaza ranges from $4.4-7.4 million, and the streetscape project sits at roughly $1 million per block.
There will be future opportunities for stakeholders, the city council, residents and members of the community to provide input before details are finalized.
Councilman Larry Hug questioned if the downtown tax increment finance district will be able to pay for any of the work to be performed.
City Manager David Hales said it remains to be seen what the projected revenues will be.
Hug wants to see greater community involvement in formulating plans for the corridor moving forward.
The city anticipates phase three engineering to begin next summer along Chicago Street between Jefferson and Washington streets.
There are no plans on the books at this time to include the construction of the plaza.