Old Joliet brewery malt house to be converted into short-stay rental units

Rooms may be ready in 2026

Investors plan to renovate the old malt house building at 515 Summit St. that was part of the old Sehring brewery in Joliet and convert it into short-term rental units. June 17, 2024

The malt house that was part of the old Sehring Brewery in Joliet will be converted into short-term rental units for travelers.

The 19th century stone building at 515 Summit St. was part of the old brewery complex that later became home to the Diocese of Joliet and now is the site of Bishops Hill Winery.

Bishops Hill partner Phil Soto has joined with a separate group of investors for the malt house project. The plan is to create five short-term rental units, often referred to as Airbnbs in recognition of the company that is a leader in making houses and apartments available to travelers for short stays.

Soto on Wednesday said the malt house project is separate from the Bishops Hill Winery, but the two ventures should make for “a nice synergy.”

“We do a lot of rehearsal dinners and things like that,” Soto said of Bishops Hill. “People come to Joliet as a destination.”

Soto said he also envisions the short-term rentals would be used by people coming to Joliet and its downtown area for events unconnected with Bishops Hill.

In the basement of the former Bishop's house, Phil Soto shows a diocese tribunal sign on one of the walls of exposed brick. "That was the original sign on the front of the building," he said.

The redevelopment of the building will take some time, and Soto gave the year 2026 as an estimate for when it may open. Planning and designs for the project will get started after the City Council approved it this week.

A zoning variation was required to allow a five-unit building in a neighborhood zoned for single- and two-family residential.

No one opposed the plan at the City Council meetings Monday and Tuesday.

Candace Johnson with the Bicentennial Bluffs Neighborhood Association said her organization supports the plan.

Johnson told the City Council on Tuesday that there was no opposition at a neighborhood association meeting where the plan was presented.

“The neighborhood association is excited about the future of the old malt house,” she said. “The building has sat in various states over the years, and we have dealt with it over the years.”

The old chancery building, which formerly housed offices for the Diocese of Joliet, can be seen in the background on the other side of Bridge Street from the former malt house that investors intend to convert into short-term rental units. Joliet, Illinois. June 17, 2024

The malt house has continued to be used for industrial-style operations. An auto body shop operates in one section of the L-shaped building. The short-term rentals will be put into redeveloped space in another section last used by a business that supplied tires for trucks.

“There were 10,000 truck tires that we had to pay to have removed,” Soto said.

The City Council voted 9-0 for the malt house plan.

“I know what you’re doing. It’s going to be great,” Mayor Terry D’Arcy said to Soto at a council workshop meeting Monday.

Council member Jan Quillman noted the neighborhood support for the project and said the investors intend to “replicate the limestone” of the original building.

The Sehring Brewery was one of several that operated in Joliet from 1838 to 1958 before local breweries were replaced by national brands.

The malt house converted grains into malt that was piped across Bridge Street to the brewery, a building that no longer exists. The Bishops Hill Winery operates out of the limestone house on Bridge Street built for brewer Fred Sehring and often referred to locally as “the castle” because of its design.