Joliet Council unhappy with vacant stores’ condition
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org August 5, 2013 10:36PM
The former Cub Food Store at Larkin and McDonough streets has been stripped down to the studs by vandals, according to Joliet city officials. City Council members discussed the building's deteriorating condition at a pre-council meeting on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. | Photo by Cindy Wojdyla Cain
Updated: September 7, 2013 6:28AM
JOLIET — City officials said Monday they are concerned about the deteriorating condition of two vacant stores on the northwest corner of Larkin Avenue and McDonough Street.
The former Wal-Mart and Cub Foods stores have been vacant for years. The Wal-Mart is being turned into a “mini-truck stop” and a “semi-tractor trailer sleeping ground,” said Councilman Jim McFarland, andthieves have stripped the Cub building of any items of value.
McFarland asked that the blighted area be discussed at Monday’s pre-council meeting and wondered if the buildings could be condemned.
Mayor Tom Giarrante agreed there’s a serious problem with the site but said the former Cub Foods store is worse than the Wal-Mart, which was viewed 10 days ago by a potential buyer.
“The Cub Foods is stripped down to the studs, everything is gone,” Giarrante said.
City Manager Tom Thanas said he could push for a nuisance declaration in court for the Cub Foods building. The recession really hampered the site’s redevelopment, he said.
“In a tough economy, it’s hard to get people interested,” he said.
However, the developer who was looking at the former Wal-Mart was interested in possibly putting a grocery store in the building, Thanas said.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman worried that the old Silver Cross Hospital site on Joliet’s east side, which became vacant when the hospital moved to New Lenox, could suffer a similar fate.
“Are people getting in there?” she asked.
Thanas said the city’s building inspector had met with Silver Cross Hospital officials to talk about stabilizing that site.
“We’ll certainly keep an eye on it,” he said.
The council’s discussion comes almost two weeks after a warehouse at the vacant Joliet Correctional Center on Collins Street was destroyed in a fire that was determined to be arson.
Also Monday, Thanas announced that he would review the appointment of Cmdr. Brian Benton as interim police chief by Chief Mike Trafton, who is using up vacation days prior to his September retirement and is no longer on duty. Thanas said he would talk to all applicants interested in becoming interim chief and would announce his decision by next Monday at the latest.
Thanas said that in the course of those interviews, he could appoint a permanent replacement for Trafton, but he was “still inclined” toward having his successor select the new police chief. Thanas is leaving his position by the end of the year.
The search for Thanas’ replacement also was updated. Monday was the last day to apply for the job. Council members will get a list of applicants by Aug. 23 and intend to meet in a special closed session Aug. 27 to discuss the finalists.