Diocese a revenue loss for Crest Hill
By Michelle Rudman June 4, 2012 7:18PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 8:58AM
I’ve lived in Crest Hill for eight years. In this time, the city and surrounding communities have grown. I remember when we moved in — lots of farmland. It seems to me, that while other neighboring cities are exploding with new businesses, shopping centers and restaurants, Crest Hill is lagging. A recent event made my blood boil.
A few years back, the city approved a large strip mall to be built on Weber Road, just off Division Street. As a resident, I was thrilled. More businesses would mean more revenue for the city. Once the plaza was finished, a sign or two for businesses went up announcing “Coming Soon.”
Well, “coming soon” never happened. The strip mall has been empty since completion. This year, a sign was placed in front of the plaza, stating an auction for the property would be held in May. Why?
On Sunday, May 13, The Herald-News ran a story explaining it all (“Joliet Diocese to move to Weber Road strip mall”). One of the entrances into the plaza was made four feet too narrow.
Really? This is reason why no businesses opened? An entryway was too narrow?
Infuriated, I read on. This property once worth an estimated $14 million was sold for much less to the Joliet Diocese. Goodbye, tax revenue, goodbye, business opportunity, city of Crest Hill.
How did this happen? Why was the builder allowed to make the entryway too narrow? How was this not caught? And one thing I just can’t seem to get past … why didn’t the city of Crest Hill simply pay to have it corrected? In the grand scheme of things wouldn’t it have been better to pay to bring this up to code and, in turn, be able to rent out the many store fronts? Essentially, the city could make back the money, right?
While Weber Road in Romeoville is flourishing with new businesses, Crest Hill can offer the Blanchette Catholic Center. Fair comparison, right? According to Crest Hill’s economic development director, Brian Gay, “We were kind of hoping to see retail going in, but it is what it is.”
How proactive considering no one was willing to bring the entryway to code. I’m glad I voted for the fair tax rule. Even Crest Hill’s mayor, Ray Soliman, is not thrilled at the plaza’s use. He admits it’s a huge loss for the city financially.
While the diocese is a positive addition to the community, it’s ridiculous that a plaza built for retail will not be used as such.
Michelle Rudman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org