Joliet Council OKs parking garage
by Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org November 5, 2012 10:54PM
Updated: December 7, 2012 6:27AM
The Joliet City Council on Monday night approved a $9.8 million public-private parking garage project, though one member suggested that the city could be getting into another Splash Station-style deal.
The city will be liable for the debt on the six-level garage if it does not pay for itself, although the facility is projected to show a $271,000 yearly surplus even after annual debt payments.
“It sounds pretty much like the agreement we had with Splash Station for 20 years,” Councilwoman Jan Quillman said.
“We all know what happened to that.”
The Splash Station Waterpark was a joint venture with the Joliet Park District that left the city on the hook to pay off any annual construction debt that was not covered by profits from the facility.
Splash Station never showed a profit, leaving Joliet to pay off the debt until it made a deal this year to pay the park district nearly $1 million to get out of the arrangement.
City Manager Thomas Thanas, who negotiated the parking deck deal, disputed the comparison, noting the revenue projections for the garage are conservative and the city would actually own it.
“We’re confident that the project pencils out,” he said.
Councilman John Gerl said ownership of the garage means a lot.
“I think there is a distinct difference between this and the (water park),” Gerl said.
“In that case, we didn’t own the asset, we just paid the debt. In this case, we own the asset.”
Quillman joined the council in voting unanimously for the parking garage, which will help the city double the number of parking spaces available to commuters when it opens in January 2014. Joliet is counting on the parking deck to be a big part of its downtown redevelopment project, anchored by a new transportation center and fueled by the arrival of high-speed rail.
“We think with marketing efforts it will position Joliet to become the transportation hub of the southwest suburbs,” Thanas said.
Parking rates at the new structure will be $5 a day, $2 an hour and $3 for baseball parking.
The deck will be built along Jefferson Street across from Silver Cross Field, making it the first parking facility by the ballpark.
More important, it will be right next to a new platform for Metra’s Rock Island Line, where passengers board for the commute to Chicago.
It will provide indoor parking with direct access to the train.
The parking garage, which will have 400 spaces, will be managed by a private company yet to be determined.
It will be built by a development team that includes Tinsley & Associates from Chicago and Harbour Contractors, of Plainfield.
In other business, the council agreed to hire Holsten Chicago to help the city plan for ownership of the Evergreen Terrace housing complex if Joliet is successful in a condemnation case now in trial in federal court.
Holsten will be paid $50,000 and would eventually be hired to manage and redevelop Evergreen Terrace if the city wins its case.