Joliet approves lease for downtown microbrewery

Brock A. Stein | 2/22/2016, 1:46 p.m.
Joliet will join the ranks of city's with their own micro-breweries once renovation is complete on the future home of ...

Joliet is the fourth largest city in Illinois but is one of the few places that doesn’t have a micro-brewery.

“That’s about to change,” said Economic Development Director for the city Steve Jones.

The city council has approved a lease agreement for just over 12,000 square feet of space in the former Union Station building where the owners of the Golden Spike microbrewery plan to open a pub and full-scale restaurant.

Last month, the council approved a change in its liquor ordinance that allows the operation of a brew pub in its downtown district.

One of the owners, Gregory Lesiak, told the council that renovation would begin now that the lease has been approved. He said that the plan was to open for business by the fall but said that the scope of the renovation of the space along with acquiring a liquour license might push that back to later in the year.

“The building is very old,” said Lesiak.

Jones said that the city has been working with the owners for about 6 months to help them find a space and work out the final details once they fixed on the Union Station building which is owned by the city.

Jones said that the “iconic nature” of the building appealed to the owners as well as its location which will be about 10,500 square feet of usable space once renovations are complete. Jones said that the brew pub will also incorporate a patio space near Jefferson Street as well.

Once open, the brewery will make its own beer on site, sell it on the premises, and could also bottle and can it for sale off site as well said Jones.

The impact could help sell the “Joliet brand” around the region he said.

Under the terms of the lease, the proprietors of Golden Spike will have a 5-year agreement with the city for $8 per square foot or $84,000 per year. The site is the former home of Bar Blu and part of an old Amtrack terminal which Jones said has “deteriorated” and includes some areas with dirt floor.

The lease agreement includes up to $300,000 of rent credits for improvements that are completed and will include two extension options of 5 years each. Rent would increase during the second and third phase of the agreement to a top annual lease amount of just over $102,000 in year 15.

Councilman Larry Hug said that the public/private partnership is “really going to turn this in to a nice space.”

brock@thetimesweekly.com or on Twitter @BrockAStein