Will County and City of Joliet consider shared government campus on old courthouse site

Rendering of potential new shared government campus between Will County and City of Joliet
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Will County and the City of Joliet may come together to create a shared government campus on the site of the old Will County Courthouse.

Discussions on shared city and county office campus

rendering of shared government campus for Will County and City of Joliet

Rendering of new shared government campus (Handout from Will County Executive)

According to a press release from the office of Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrrant, she and Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy have started having discussions about the possibility of a unified city-county office campus.

“The potential for both of our governments to share a single space would be transformational for Joliet and Will County,” said County Executive Bertino-Tarrant. “These conversations are a step in the right direction to prepare us for the future. Our region is continuing to grow, and we need to work together to ensure that county and city services are prepared for continued population increases.”

Old Will County Courthouse site could house new campus

The two are eyeing the site of the old Will County Courthouse at 14 West Jefferson Street for the new campus. The courthouse has been slated for demolition by the county board, as Will County court proceedings moved into the new courthouse across the street at 100 W. Jefferson St. in the fall of 2020.

According to the press release, Bertino-Tarrant and D’Arcy started considering the former courthouse space as a possibility for such a project once the decision for demolition was made in 2019. A space needs assessment was conducted, which determined that the county government would likely outgrow its current office space, centered at the County Executive Building (COB) at 302 North Chicago Street, including some other leased space around Joliet.

The COB became the primary government building for Will County in the 1980’s when the county’s population stood at about 300,000. It has since grown to nearly 700,000.

Joliet’s population has also climbed since its city hall, located at 150 West Jefferson Street, was first built in 1968. At that time, Joliet had a population of about 75,000. It’s now more than 150,000. Officials say the space is maxed out, with no additional room for city staff.

“If the County and City moved to a unified space, it could potentially free up two prime property locations to support downtown revitalization efforts. I look forward to these continued conversations.” said Mayor D’Arcy.

He added, “Having both of our services in a unified campus, at the entrance of downtown Joliet, will promote visibility of local government and ensure that residents get the modern services they deserve.”

Preservationists still fighting for old courthouse

Old Will County Courthouse

Old Will County Courthouse at 14 W. Jefferson St.

Demolition on the old courthouse is scheduled to start later this year, though local preservationists have been fighting to save the building. A group called the Courthouse Preservation Partnership would like to see the space redeveloped rather than demolished.

They’ll be making a presentation to the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission on June 28, in the hopes of having the group recommend the building for local historic landmark status. Were it to get that recommendation, the Joliet City Council would have the final say in the matter.

Renderings of new government campus

Several renderings of what a new government campus might look like have been drawn up, to show how the space at 14 West Jefferson Street might be utilized. They include an option for retail space as well, “to add to the continued revitalization efforts of downtown Joliet.”

“I look forward to continued conversations between county and city officials about the great potential of this property,” added Bertino-Tarrant. “Both of our governments have clearly outgrown our existing space. Maintaining an open dialogue will ensure that we identify the best option for our residents.”

Photo credit: Handout from Will County Executive

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