Contractor lined up to demolish gym at old Joliet Catholic High School

Council to vote on contract with R. Berti and Son

The city of Joliet owns the gym and cafeteria , a section of the of the old Joliet Catholic High School building located at the corner of Jefferson and Hickory streets. Feb. 29, 2024.

The Joliet City Council will vote Tuesday on a $1.2 million contract to demolish the gym and cafeteria sections of the old Joliet Catholic High School.

The city owns the corner of the building at Jefferson and Hickory streets in an arrangement made in 1997, when most of the former school was turned into Victory Centre of Joliet for senior living.

The space was donated to the city, which intended to use it for social programs. But the city never used the space and allowed its section of the building to deteriorate, which has become a festering issue with residents at Victory Centre.

The council will vote on a contract with R. Berti and Son Contractors out of Joliet to demolish the space.

R. Berti and Son was the only of three contractors contacted by the city willing to do the work, according to a staff memo on the project.

But the company’s bid is half of the $2.4 million cost estimate that engineers placed on the project.

.A fence blocks entry to a sidewalk that runs alongside the section of the former Joliet Catholic High School building that housed a gym and cafeteria. Feb. 29, 2024.

The demolition involves knocking down space within a building that will continue to be used.

Victory Centre residential units are adjacent to the gym and cafeteria that will be demolished. The cafeteria is on the first floor of the building and sits underneath the gym.

“This is a very specialized demolition project and requires a highly skilled local construction management contractor to oversee the work from beginning to end,” according to the memo.

The city contacted three local contractors to do the work, and only R. Berti and Son was willing to do it. Lindblad Construction in Joliet declined, and Harbour Construction in Plainfield did not respond.

According to the memo, R. Berti and Son “has worked successfully with the city of Joliet on many projects and is highly qualified to execute this type of project.”

The council’s Public Service Committee will review the matter when it meets Monday and make a recommendation to the full council.

Joliet Catholic High School merged with St. Frances Academy in 1990 to create Joliet Catholic Academy located on Larkin Avenue.

The old Joliet Catholic High School building was last used as a school by what was then Plainfield High School, the one high school in Plainfield, when the 1990 tornado destroyed its building. Plainfield High School was moved to the Joliet Catholic High School building as a new school was built.