Joliet Mayor D’Arcy knew of Hawk Auto’s plans to move to Plainfield last year

Volkswagen and Cadillac dealerships going to Plainfield site

Mayor Terry D’Arcy said he knew even before taking office that Hawk Auto planned to move its Volkswagen and Cadillac dealerships out of Joliet, but there wasn’t much the city could do about it.

Hawk Auto is moving the two franchises to a new development to be built just north of Joliet on the Route 59 corridor.

The location in Plainfield is being designed to eventually house four dealerships, the two others of which have not been determined.

“This was prior to my being mayor that this happened,” said D’Arcy, who became mayor in May 2023.

News of Hawk Auto’s plans, however, just emerged this week, and it’s not clear what actions city staff took to keep the two dealerships in Joliet. Car dealers are big sales tax generators, making them prized businesses in a city.

The city of Joliet’s economic development division is in disarray. The city has no economic development director or staff after Cesar Suarez left March 7, just days after City Council members openly criticized economic development efforts at a public meeting.

Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Cornerstone Wellness Center on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023 in Joliet.

Council member Larry Hug, chairman of the City Council Economic Development Committee, said he first learned of Hawk’s plans to move the two dealerships out of Joliet when contacted by the Herald-News on Wednesday.

“The whole purpose of the Economic Development Committee is to address these kind of things,” Hug said. “Whether we could have helped, I don’t know. We were never told of it.”

D’Arcy said he did not inform council members of Hawk’s plans and did not know whether city staff made any effort to keep the dealerships in Joliet.

D’Arcy, a car dealer, himself said dealership locations typically are driven by the car manufacturers, and Hawk was unable to find a Joliet location to satisfy Volkswagen or Cadillac.

“He had looked at a location within Joliet, but Volkswagen rejected that,” D’Arcy said.

The mayor owns D’Arcy Motors on Essington Road and the Jefferson Street property where Hawk Volkswagen now is located. He sold the Volkswagen dealership to Hawk in 2014 and now leases the property to Hawk.

The mayor said John Crane, president and part-owner of Hawk Auto Group, told him more than a year ago that he planned to move the Volkswagen dealership.

“It didn’t seem like there was anything we could do about it,” D’Arcy said.

Crane said he did look at two other Joliet locations on Route 59.

One was at Theodore Street on space in front of Esporta Fitness, but the fitness club had a right of first refusal for other development and nixed the plan for a Volkswagen dealership. The other site was too expensive, Crane said.

The Plainfield site at Rolf Road met the needs for the new dealerships, he said.

“We found a good piece of land that the manufacturers approved of,” Crane said. “Both of the manufacturers were insistent on finding a location farther north on Route 59 than Joliet.”

The future of the Cadillac business was threatened because of the low volume of business at its Jefferson Street location, where Hawk runs a Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership, Crane said.

The Chevrolet dealership is staying and will be expanded into the space that Cadillac vacates, he said.

Hawk in 2017 was close to moving two Joliet dealerships to another Route 59 location in Plainfield. But the city and Joliet Park District worked out an arrangement in which Hawk bought a section of the Wedgewood Golf Course site for the Mazda-Subaru dealership now on the corner of Route 59 and Caton Farm Road.

The Joliet dealership is less than a mile away from the future Plainfield dealership.