Business

Cullinan expands Joliet project to 309 acres

Rock Run Crossings has been in the works since 2008

A sign along Interstate 55, seen on Aug. 14, 2021 advertises space for the future Rock Run Crossings development in Joliet.

The developer of Rock Run Crossings has added 46 acres to the plan, an addition that a company representative says shows the potential for the project.

Rock Run Crossings, a mixed-use project for stores, restaurants hotels, offices, warehouses and more at Interstates 55 and 80, has been considered loaded with potential but has been slow to develop.

The project has been in the works since 2008 when a previous developer planned a lifestyle mall before being stymied by the recession that hit soon after the plans were brought to the city of Joliet. Current developer Cullinan Properties acquired the 263-acre site in 2015. Its plans also have been stalled by an unforeseen development – the COVID-19 pandemic.

This image shows what Rock Run Crossings in Joliet might look like.

Cullinan now has 309 acres for Rock Run Crossings.

Development Manager Jim Testin said the expansion is a reflection of Cullinan’s confidence in the project.

“I think what it signifies is that we’re excited about the site,” Testin said Thursday. “We’re excited about working with the city of Joliet. We see a tremendous amount of potential.”

Testin was at a meeting of the Joliet Plan Commission, which gave its recommendation of approval for the 46 acres added to the project to be annexed into Joliet. The annexation goes to the City Council for final approval.

Testin would not comment on whether the additional 46 acres was acquired for Hollywood Casino, which is rumored to be interested in moving from its existing Joliet site to Rock Run Crossings.

Cullinan has announced only one future tenant for the site – Regal Cinema, which was announced in 2019.

But Testin said leasing activity will pick up as construction continues on an expanded I-55 interchange, which is being done to provide access to the site.

IDOT has estimated the total cost of the interchange and roads at $126 million.
Joliet plans to create a tax increment financing district that could use property taxes from the development to offset local costs and a special business district that could use a portion of sales tax dollars as well.

Located at the junction of two major interstates, the potential of the site is tied to the heavy traffic that goes by. But there has been no direct access to either I-55 or I-80, and development plans going back to 2008 have hinged on the construction of a new interchange.

Retailers, restaurants, hotels and other potential Rock Run occupants “want to see that interchange move forward,” Testin said. “Then, I think, we’re going to see a lot of leasing activity take place.”

Meanwhile, Testin said, Cullinan is busy developing the site with infrastructure that needs to be in place to accommodate the businesses that eventually would come.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk devoted part of his recent State of the City speech to Rock Run Crossings, pointing to the on-site work underway and the interchange under construction.

“We know that any real development needs that interchange,” O’Dekirk said, pointing out to the audience that they can see the interchange construction while driving by the site on I-55.

“I’m very excited about what’s going to be at that property.”