Joliet official says Panera Bread project ‘alive and well’
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org October 22, 2013 5:33PM
Updated: November 24, 2013 6:37AM
The proposed Panera Bread project on Jefferson Street will move forward as state and city officials work with the developer on road improvements, Joliet officials said Tuesday.
A developer plans to build a strip center with a Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill and an Aldi grocery store at the corner of Jefferson and Caterpillar Drive. But a city official earlier this month described the project as “in jeopardy” because of the potential costs of intersection improvements sought by the state.
“It’s not going to kill the project,” James Trizna, the city’s director of public works said Tuesday.
Trizna attended a meeting Monday that included a representative from the Illinois Department of Transportation and developer Jerry Cairo.
“Jerry’s going to make it work,” Trizna said. “They’re committed to the project.”
Joliet City Manager Thomas Thanas in an email said the meeting, “went well. The city and the developer are working on the improvements that need to be made. The project is alive and well and will move forward.”
The project will be a boost to Jefferson Street, redeveloping a spot vacated after the Joliet Dodge dealership closed and adding a couple of desired restaurant brands — Panera and Chipotle — to that part of town. Aldi already is located on West Jefferson Street but will move to an improved location.
One issue facing the development, Trizna said, is the size of the entryway to the old Joliet Dodge dealership and how it lined up with Caterpillar Drive on the other side of Jefferson Street.
The two restaurants and Aldi store will generate more in-and-out traffic than the car dealership, Trizna said, and state officials want to make sure that the shopping center entrance and intersection can handle the traffic.
“I think it’s going to work out,” Trizna said.