Will County hires firm to study new courthouse options
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com March 20, 2014 6:52PM
The First Midwest Bank building on the southwest corner of Ottawa and Jefferson streets in Joliet is one potential site for a new Will County courthouse. | Susan DeMar Lafferty~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 22, 2014 6:39AM
In a long-awaited and much-anticipated step toward getting a new courthouse facility in Will County, county board members Thursday agreed to hire Darien-based Wight & Co. to do the preliminary analysis and design.
Wight will not be looking at a specific site but will consider potential locations in downtown Joliet as well as sites with vacant land to determine what makes the most sense, said board member Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, chairwoman of the board’s capital improvements committee.
One possible site is the First Midwest Bank building at 50 W. Jefferson St., which the county hopes to acquire soon. It is across the street from the existing courthouse.
While some board members have said they want the courthouse to remain in downtown Joliet, Winfrey said Wight — an architectural, engineering and construction firm — will determine what makes sense in terms of cost and location and whether it is more economical to retrofit an existing building or construct a new one.
If the courthouse were moved to a vacant site elsewhere, all related operations would have to move with it, including the jail, judges’ offices, the state’s attorney’s office and the circuit court clerk, she said.
Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, said there is “lots of vacant land” along U.S. 6 between Parker Road and Silver Cross Boulevard.
Also to be factored into the decision is the impact of leaving downtown Joliet and the reuse of the existing courthouse.
“We are in the very early stages,” Winfrey said. “It took years to get this far. We finally have an architect on board.”
The county board passed a resolution Thursday authorizing Executive Larry Walsh to negotiate a contract with Wight.