Battle over NorthPoint rages on

By Rex Robinson | 4/22/2020, 11:23 a.m.
While the Joliet City Council has taken the first step toward bringing a controversial business park proposal to fruition, some ...
Prior to the Coronavirus crisis, residents would pack the Joliet City Hall chambers to voice their opinions both for and against the NorthPoint development. (file photo)

The next step for NorthPoint is to seek final annexation, either in part or in whole, from the Joliet City Council. The land is currently in unincorporated Jackson Township.

O’Dekirk has defended the NorthPoint project and said it is “part of the evolution happening throughout that region - process which started 20 years ago.” He added that it will create thousands of new jobs and pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.

Pat Robinson, vice president of acquisitions for NorthPoint, has said Compass Park would consist of a mix of warehousing, light assembly and possibly some manufacturing. The project, he added, would result in 1,600 union construction jobs and another 4,500 permanent jobs and $18 million annually in property taxes for Joliet and other taxing bodies. “We try to align ourselves with quality companies, that pair a fair wage,” he said at the start of the public hearing last week.

The development, he added, will be the company's “nicest park yet,” providing improved infrastructure including everything from a bridge over Illinois 53 to alleviate truck traffic on city streets to providing tax money for the city, a $2 million donation to the city, bike and walking paths connecting to existing nature preserves, such as Mediwin National Tallgrass Prairie, and other incentives.

O’Dekirk has said that while traffic and infrastructure remain a concern he is happy with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s commitment of more than $1.3 billion to the Joliet region for the long needed improvements to I-80, the numerous interchanges, and the Houbolt Road bridge which will help alleviate traffic.

“Tax revenue raised through private investment is what every city strives for,” he said. “It allows us to provide the services our citizens deserve without raising taxes. This especially helps working families, poorer residents and seniors or people on fixed incomes.”

Sheridan, on Tuesday, said with the impact the coronavirus is having on the economy, the chances are slim for the state to commit $1.3 billion for the bridge and other infrastructure necessary to bring the development to fruition

“The state is flat broke,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”

Members of the two groups plan to hold a press conference Tuesday morning to lay out their next step toward stopping the city from moving forward with the development. Their hope is to get the vote annulled and get a “fair and open meeting”

Councilman Larry Hug, who voted with the majority in favor of the agreement, said he spent months fully researching and vetting the project. “I’ve listened to all sides and anyone who wanted to give me input. While not an easy decision, all things considered, my ‘yes’ vote was the right decision,” he said.