Panel OKs plan for downtown Joliet parking garage
By Bob Okon email@example.com September 26, 2011 4:44PM
The Parking Garage Development Team
Stephen Tinsley, team leader with Tinsley and Associates, Chicago
John W. Clark, principal with Cordogan, Clark & Associates, an architectural firm out of Chicago.
Patrick Harbour with Harbour Contractors, Inc. in Plainfield.
Rodney Tonelli, president of Ruettiger, Tonelli & Associates, Inc., a surveying and engineering firm in Joliet.
Updated: November 11, 2011 2:46PM
JOLIET — The city could have a 400-space parking garage at least five stories high by next fall if developers get the green light to move ahead with the project.
A development team wants to build the garage on Jefferson Street across from Silver Cross Field and near a future transit station expected to open in 2013.
“This will be right across the street from home plate at Silver Cross Field,” City Manager Thomas Thanas told the Joliet City Council Land Use Committee.
The committee gave its nod of approval — a 3-0 vote to send the plan to the full council for its consideration.
Developer Stephen Tinsley, the team leader on the project, said the facility would provide short-time parking for Slammers fans, all-day parking for Metra commuters, and even long-term parking for travelers taking a train to the airport.
“If we get approved now, it will open next fall,” Tinsley told the committee.
The council could vote on the plan at its first or second meeting in October. Thanas said he hopes to have council review of the project completed in October, and a groundbreaking could occur this fall.
The presentation Monday was the first public airing of the proposal.
All-day parking would likely be $6, Tiinsley said. That’s more than other parking options downtown now, but Tinsley and city officials believe commuters will pay for more convenience and security.
Slammers game parking would be $2 or $3, Tinsley said. Parking for Slammers games now is free, since there is no charge for downtown parking after 5 p.m. or on Sundays. But again, the developers and city staff believe fans will pay for added convenience and security.
The project is public-private partnership that would give the developer access to an open public lot that now provides 60 to 70 spots for Metra commuters at Jefferson and Michigan streets.
The development team would arrange financing for the project, which would be paid off from parking garage revenues.
The city would take over ownership of the parking garage and would be liable if revenues are not sufficient to pay off the bonds.
The garage would be managed by a private company, which also would provide security. Thanas said the management company would likely be Next Parking out of Chicago.
Next Parking could even be taking over management of other city parking decks and lots. Thanas said he is talking with the company about doing just that and will bring a proposal to the city council.
The project also includes plans for a street-level restaurant facing Jefferson Street.
Land Use Committee Chairman Don Fisher said the project could mark a “new beginning” for that stretch of Jefferson Street and encourage other business development nearby.
The city is counting on a combination of private and public development to revitalize the section of downtown that already has Silver Cross Field and Union Station.
The transportation center being built nearby is a $42 million project funded in large part by state money to create a stop along the future high-speed rail line.
That project also includes a new parking project that could begin going out for bid in October. Thanas said that area will create 500 parking spaces.