Box factory proposed for former Toys “R” Us warehouse

Joliet zoning board considers variation of use for manufacturing operation on Thursday

The former Toys “R” Us warehouse in Joliet may be converted into a cardboard box factory.

Plans have been submitted to the city to open a paper shredding, recycling and cardboard box manufacturing plant in the 671,000-square-foot building located on the edge of the city’s major retail district.

The plan goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday for a variation of use that would be needed to open a manufacturing plant on the site.

The building sits on a 56-acre site along Hennepin Drive near Plainfield Road and behind the Joliet Commons shopping center, which includes the Target store.

A staff memo attached to the zoning board agenda states that the corrugated box manufacturing process includes the use of chemicals, including caustic substances, borax and resins. Water-based inks and glue also are used.

The memo states that there are “no external effects” such as smoke or smells, based on information provided by the applicant seeking the industrial use for the site.

The site was developed for Toys “R” Us in 1990 at a time before much of the commercial development occurred in the area across Plainfield Road from the Louis Joliet Mall.

The property is now zoned for general business, which does not permit the light industrial use sought for the building.

The variation of use, if granted, would only apply to the box manufacturer, the staff memo states. A new variation of use would be required for any future manufacturing.

Staff is attaching one condition to the variation, which states that the variation of use could be revoked if the property is declared a public nuisance.

The zoning board will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday in Joliet City Hall.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News