Long-Awaited City Square Approved by Joliet City Council

An area adjacent to the historic Joliet Rialto Square Theater will be getting a total makeover thanks to the approval of the Joliet City Council at Tuesday’s council meeting.  The project known as City Square, has been in the works since the city completed the Downtown Joliet Plan in 2015 that identified the need to create a larger urban gathering space at this location. 

City Square will be located across from the Rialto Square Theater, at the corner of Clinton and Chicago Streets, and will be uniquely positioned to take advantage of regional destinations and to build upon the historical significance of the area including the 100-year anniversary of the Rialto Theater and the commissioning of Route 66 in 2026.

Revitalizing downtown Joliet is one of Mayor Terry D’Arcy’s top priorities. “The area surrounding the historic Rialto Square Theater is in the heart of Joliet and deserves to be a place for families to gather and enjoy the beautiful amenities and dining options downtown has to offer,” stated D’Arcy.  “The City Square plan will support and promote our downtown businesses and institutions while establishing a safe location for year-round events for residents, visitors, employees and students in the region to enjoy.” 

According to Lisa Dorothy, Project Manager and Civil Engineer leading the construction and engineering for the project, the development of City Square is complementary to the Chicago Street Reconstruction project, and the streetscape plan for this project is being developed simultaneously. “The Chicago Street Reconstruction project implements a redesign of Chicago Street from Jefferson Street to Cass Street to reestablish the identity of this corridor as a street that is safe for all types of transportation. Both projects advance the high-level conceptual designs from the Chicago Street Corridor Plan adopted in 2018,” explained Dorothy. 

Assisting Dorothy in the project is City Planner and Project Manager Jayne Bernhard who oversaw the public input process on the design and amenities for City Square as well as helped secure grant funding for the project. 

Bernhard and colleagues secured $3 million from the Rebuild Downtowns & Main Streets Capital Grant through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to fund a portion of the total cost of the renovations estimated at about $21 million. 

In addition, $2,501,760 of the City’s REBUILD Illinois allocation from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will also be utilized for the Chicago Street reconstruction project, which will be constructed adjacent to and concurrently with the City Square project. 

Input and participation from the community in the design process has been extensive and dates back to September of 2022 including a series of open houses, a community survey, public comment periods, city council presentations and meetings with various stakeholder groups. 

Dave DiLorenzo, Director of Community & Employee Relations at University of St. Francis provided feedback on the proposed project thanking the city for its efforts to provide a transparent process. “We are excited for the opportunities that this space will create for our students and faculty, as well as the impact it will have on enhancing the image of downtown Joliet.” 

“The City Center Partnership is eager to see this project coming to fruition,” commented Priscilla Cordero, Executive Director for the Joliet City Center Partnership. “The City Square and Chicago Street reconstruction will be a catalyst for economic development allowing Joliet to attract new development, businesses, and residents for the improvement of downtown as a whole.”  

Monica Cicimov, Owner of C&C Vision Gallery believes the City Square and Chicago Street reconstruction is vital to the continued growth and improvement of downtown. “This project will benefit current and future generations of residents and businesses. We are excited to see that the City of Joliet and its council members are fully committed to the revitalization of downtown.”

Construction will begin later this year and is expected to run through the end of 2025.  For more information about the project, please visit the city’s website at https://www.joliet.gov/government/departments/public-works/joliet-city-square-design