Joliet buys downtown building for $820,000 to meet staffing needs

City says running out of space at city hall for growing staff

The Joliet City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to buy a private office building at 63 W. Jefferson St. for $820,000. May 20, 2024

The city of Joliet plans to begin moving staff this fall into a downtown office building after the City Council on Tuesday approved the $820,000 purchase price.

The council voted 6-3 to approve the acquisition of the building at 63 W. Jefferson St. with two members questioning whether it was a wise investment.

Mayor Terry D’Arcy said the building will provide office space for employees already located elsewhere downtown in rented offices because of cramped quarters at City Hall. The Jefferson Street building offers future office space close to City Hall, he said.

“This building is kitty corner, across the street,” D’Arcy said at the council meeting. “We can begin to put people in there.”

The city would be able to place 40 to 50 employees in the building, according to a news release Joliet issued on Wednesday.

The building is already more than 80% leased, which provides an income stream for the city, according to Finance Director Kevin Sing, who told The Herald-News that the building “pays for itself.”

The news release quotes Sing saying the city will save $30,000 a year by moving employees to 63 W. Jefferson St. from rented offices at the Two Rialto Square building downtown.

The city in 2021 approved a three-year lease valued at $150,000 to rent space at the Two Rialto Square building for engineers in its utilities department.

The number of city employees has grown from 835 in 2015 to 920 today.

Joliet City Hall, Municipal Building. Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021 in Joliet.

The city expects the purchase of the 7,100-square-foot building at 63 W. Jefferson St. to close in the next three months, allowing employees to move in by fall.

Council members Jan Quillman, Joe Clement and Larry Hug voted against the purchase of the building.

“This is only a temporary fix,” Quillman said. “There’s talk of building things later. I don’t know how we get our money back.”

Quillman did not elaborate on what the city may build later, and she could not be reached on Wednesday to elaborate.

But D’Arcy and Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant have discussed a city-county building on the site of the old Will County Courthouse and issued a news release in June 2023 to promote the idea. No plans for such a project have been presented to the County Board or City Council, which would have to approve funding before it could move forward.

Clement said he believed the city was paying too much for the building at 63 W. Jefferson St.

A city appraisal priced the building at $770,000. City officials said the $820,000 purchase price was a compromise between the city and seller. The seller had an appraisal for $860,000.

Attorney John Reed, who has an office in the building, is listed in city documents as the seller.