Downtown site for USF?
By Bob Okon email@example.com September 5, 2012 6:28PM
Updated: October 7, 2012 8:02AM
JOLIET — The University of St. Francis could be expanding operations downtown.
The university is expected to get the downtown Mode building when an announcement is made Friday.
BMO Harris has scheduled the announcement of a donation to the university but has not confirmed what it is donating. Sources said the bank is giving the Mode building to the university.
The Mode building is so called because it once housed the popular Mode movie theater, which is long gone. The building at Chicago and Van Buren streets has been converted to offices.
A university spokeswoman would not comment on what plans it might have for the building, referring questions about the donation to BMO Harris.
In 2009, the University of St. Francis moved art classes into the office building attached to the Rialto Square Theatre. University officials said the downtown location offered a unique environment for art students and more space than what was available at its near West Side campus.
Depending on the university’s plans for the Mode building, it could be one of two expanded downtown operations for higher education.
Joliet Junior College is scheduled to begin construction at its downtown campus next year on a new center for its culinary arts and hospitality programs.
City and economic development officials support the expansion of college facilities downtown, saying the students add vitality and a new customer base for local businesses.
“It improves the downtown profile,” said John Greuling, chief executive of the Will County Center for Economic Development. “You bring in a younger group of people — students who have more flexible time. When they’re not in class, they tend to migrate to restaurants and coffee shops.”