NorthPoint can build west of Rt. 53 with no bridge

East-West distinctions included in Joliet annexation agreement

The proposed Compass Business Park would include a gateway bridge over Route 53, pictured in this screen capture from a YouTube 3D video made by NorthPoint Development.

NorthPoint Development appears to be getting ready to build even as the future of its promised bridge remains uncertain.

The developer will go to the Joliet Plan Commission on Thursday seeking preliminary plat approval for warehouse development on 532 acres west of Route 53.

The bridge has been such an essential element of the NorthPoint plan that the developer’s annexation agreement with the city requires that permits and financing for the bridge be in place before building permits are issued for most of the 2,300-acre warehouse development.

But NorthPoint won’t have to have the bridge underway for the section of the industrial park west of Route 53.

“They do not because it does not require a bridge” Regis said. “But what the agreement does require is no truck access to 53.”

The new NorthPoint annexation agreement approved by the city in December, when the developer added land west of Route 53 at Millsdale Road to its project, makes a distinction between land east and west of the highway.

Tom George, Vice President of Acquisitions at NorthPoint, speaks at the Joliet Plan Commission meeting regarding NorthPoint's development of the Compass Business Park. Thursday, Nov.18, 2021 in Joliet.

Land west of Route 53 is already on the same side of the highway as the Union Pacific and BNSF Railway intermodal yards in Joliet and Elwood, meaning trucks will not have to cross the highway to go between warehouses and intermodal yards to transport cargo.

Still, NorthPoint opponents, who have little or no faith in the developer’s proposal of a closed-loop road network to keep trucks off local roads, don’t see the point in the east-west distinction.

“Do they think that trucks are not going to go on to their final destination?” asked Stephanie Irvine, a member of the Just Say No to NorthPoint group. “They’re not just going to the rail yard and back. They have to get to their final destination.”

Noting the size of the project, Stephanie Irvine showed a map of the future Compass Business Park and said laid on top of a map of Joliet it would stretch from the Slammers baseball stadium downtown to Joliet Junior College on Houbolt Road.

"This is absolutely huge when you look at it," Irvine told the audience.

The entire project could someday stretch from Joliet to Manhattan to Elwood.

Irvine said there are weak points in the NorthPoint plan.

The developer does not have the contiguous land it needs to annex into Manhattan, she said. Even the land NorthPoint plans to annex into Joliet is questionable, she said.

"They don't own it all," she said. "It does not mean it's a done deal just because they own a few parcels and have options on the rest."

To Irvine and others, more warehouses inevitably means more trucks on Route 53.

“I don’t think anyone who lives in the area wants to see more trucks dumped onto Route 53,” she said.

The one warehouse built in the Joliet Logistics Park seen from the other side of Route 53 at Millsdale Road on Oct. 22, 2023.

It’s uncertain when NorthPoint would build its bridge.

The City Council on Tuesday tabled a vote on Verus Partners’ plan to resume development of the Joliet Logistics Park, which is located east of Route 53 at Millsdale Road.

The plan includes an agreement with the city that ties the Joliet Logistics Park to the NorthPoint closed-loop. But it gives Verus Partners an out that reflects the uncertainty of when the bridge will be built.

Three lawsuits have been filed against the NorthPoint plan.

The Joliet Logistics Park, under the plan set aside Tuesday, would have been required to connect to the NorthPoint closed loop by 2025 but only if a bridge was built by then.

The proposed development agreement would extend that deadline by one year if the bridge project is tied up in litigation.