JOLIET – Cullinan Properties is looking at construction next year and a fall 2019 opening for Rock Run Crossings, a lifestyle development that would combine retail, entertainment, office space, hotels and homes on a site at Interstates 55 and 80.
The city has been trying to develop the site for nearly 10 years because of its high exposure from two cross-country interstates. But there is no interstate access, something that has to be overcome before development.
Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk at his annual State of the City address Monday announced that the state “is set to make a major commitment” that will provide interstate access to the site.
Another city official said later that the state already is in the process of awarding a contract for engineering of a future interchange.
O'Dekirk said the 265-acre project will have regional reach and be an economic engine, creating 5,000 permanent jobs and 8,000 construction jobs.
"It will have an economic impact of $1.4 billion," O'Dekirk said, adding that developments are now moving quickly. "City council, get ready. It's coming, and it's going to be coming fast."
He said representatives from Cullinan will make a presentation on the project at a city council meeting either this month or in March.
Anaise Berry, director of marketing, said Cullinan expects to formally apply to the city for approval of the project by the end of April.
"We are moving full-steam ahead," Berry said.
The plan is to begin construction on Rock Run Crossings in 2018 and begin opening in fall 2019, she said.
The Cullinan website, which promotes the Rock Run Crossings development, notes traffic counts of 235,000 vehicles passing the site everyday.
East Peoria-based Cullinan acquired the northeast section of the interchange in July 2015. But development always hinged on getting interstate access. Cullinan had not previously publicly announced a development timetable.
"The state is very supportive, which is terrific," Berry said. "We continue to get very positive feedback on the retail, the restaurants and the residential."
The state is in the process of awarding a contract to an engineering firm that would begin planning an interchange providing access from I-55, said Joliet Economic Development Director Steve Jones.
Jones said city and state officials will meet this week to discuss an intergovernmental agreement for not only the interchange but improvements of local roads leading to the site.
"The impacts of this are much greater than the interstates," Jones said.
The state will pay for the $90 million interchange, Jones said. The city will be responsible for some $60 million in funding for improving local roads. He said the city is pursuing federal grants to help with the funding.
A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Transportation could not be reached Monday for comment.
Local roads that would be improved or expanded to provide access to the site include Olympic Boulevard and County Farm Road.
But O'Dekirk said the project extends beyond that and would even include improvements on Jefferson Street to prepare for the expected traffic to the site.
"It's a huge thing that's being put together," O'Dekirk said, when interviewed after his speech. "It's a city project, but it's going to have a regional impact."
Cullinan bought the site from California-based O & S Holdings, which had planned a similar project called Bridge Street Town Centre.
The O & S project was proposed in late 2007, just months ahead of a recession that devastated real estate markets and put a halt to retail development. The plan never developed, and the city at one point considered putting warehousing on the site.
ROCK RUN CROSSINGS
• 265-acre development planned by Cullinan Properties at Interstates 55 and 80
• Lifestyle development that mixes retail, restaurants, entertainment, hotels, offices and homes
• Cullinan plans to apply for city approval by late April
• Construction slated to start in 2018
• Opening planned for fall 2019