Signs come down at proposed Joliet mall site
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain Sun-Times Media August 24, 2012 6:20PM
PHOTO COURTESY OF O&S HOLDINGS An artist rendering shows Central Park at the center of Bridge Street Town Centre - Chicagoland, a proposed mall in Joliet at the northeast corner of I-55 and I-80.
Updated: September 27, 2012 11:23AM
Signs touting Bridge Street Town Centre’s “2009 Groundbreaking” have come down along the Interstate 55 frontage road in Joliet.
But city officials do not know if that is a sign the mall project, proposed back in 2007, is dead or just continuing its long dormancy.
Bridge Street was supposed to be a lifestyle mall with higher-end stores northeast of the intersection of Interstates 80 and 55. The project languished after the recession hit in December 2007, but city officials still had hope it would be built if and when the economy recovered.
Jim Haller, Joliet’s director of community and economic development, said he hasn’t heard from the developer, Beverly Hills, Calif.-based O&S Holdings LLC, in a couple of years. He was unaware the groundbreaking signs were being taken down.
“Nobody checked in with us,” he said.
Mayor Tom Giarrante said he hasn’t heard officially that the project is dead, but he also has no knowledge that it will ever go forward. The biggest stumbling block all along was access to the site, which is off a frontage road, he said.
Several years ago when the project was being discussed, the cost to create access to the site from two directions — I-55 and Houbolt Road — was estimated at $100 million, Giarrante said.
“I’m sure it’s gone up substantially,” he said.
Even if O&S doesn’t proceed, both Giarrante and Haller have hopes that the site will one day be a retail development that will generate substantial sales tax for the city.
“It’s still a great corner with a lot of traffic,” Giarrante said.
The land, which is owned by O&S, is zoned for retail, it was annexed into the city and it’s close to sewer and water lines, Haller said.
“It’s not a bad spot of ground,” he said.
The 325-acre development was expected to have a market value of $1 billion. O&S Holdings planned to build 1.5 million square feet of retail space; 800 multifamily and single-family units; and 200,000 square feet of office space. The project is still listed on O&S Holdings’ website, which says an average of 266,400 vehicles pass the site every day.
Construction was originally scheduled to begin in 2008, with completion in 2011.
Even as late as December 2009, the company was still talking about moving forward with the project and said it had letters of intent from Von Maur department store and Regal Entertainment for a 16-screen movie theater.
Currently there are seven boarded-up, deteriorating homes on the site as well as fields filled with corn.
No one from O&S could be reached for comment. The company developed a 600,000-square-foot Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville, Ala., in 2007. That mall was sold in May to Skokie-based Miller Capital Advisory.