Joliet warehouse moratorium revisited?

No one ever really promised you a Rt. 53 moratorium

What about the moratorium?

That was the question from one reader as Joliet considers more Rt. 53 warehouse proposals beyond the borders – wherever they may finally end up being – of NorthPoint Development’s future Compass Global Logistics Hub.

I asked that question myself in this column five weeks ago when the developers of Joliet Logistics Park returned a second time seeking approval for continued warehouse development along Route 59 at Millsdale Road.

That may get decided in January.

But now it appears that the city is looking at all-roads-lead-to-NorthPoint sort of alternative in which Route 59 warehouse projects may be allowed if they can get access to the future “closed-loop” road network that NorthPoint says it can create.

The moratorium in question was suggested by Mayor Bob O’Dekirk and a couple of City Council members after approving the NorthPoint project in April 2020.

The general idea was that NorthPoint was the future for warehouse development in the city’s industrial south side sector on both sides of Route 53, and smaller projects that needed access to the highway would not be allowed.

But there was no vote on a moratorium. It was never clearly defined. And there was no formal commitment by the city or the council.

I only remember O’Dekirk, Council members Terry Morris and Larry Hug making mention of it. Forgive me if I missed anyone.

But the idea seemed to carry some weight when the council first turned down Joliet Logistics Park a few weeks after approving NorthPoint.

It seemed to be even stronger when NASCAR’s plan to build warehouses outside Chicagoland Speedway got a no recommendation from the Plan Commission and faced resistance from Hug at a meeting of the Joliet City Council Economic Development Committee.

My impression was that Chicagoland Speedway representatives considered it sort of a slap in the face after NASCAR made Joliet a national stage for professional racing. NASCAR has not had a race in Joliet since, which of course had something to do with COVID-19 in 2020. But what about 2021 and 2022?

No warehouses, no racing?

The moratorium is a concept and not an ordinance.

Just what it might mean will get tested again with Cadence Premier Logistics’ plan to expand its operations west of Route 53.

The plan for Cadence West includes a 202,500-square-foot warehouse, which is not gigantic by today’s standards. But it is a warehouse that appears to require access to Rt. 53.

Cadence would be tough to turn down.

It’s a young, growing company that moved its operations, including its corporate headquarters, to Joliet in 2016 so that it could have room to grow. That’s what it’s doing, and I don’t think City Hall will want to stand in the way.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News