JOLIET, IL-Although they are north of the Downtown area, a former US Steel property as well as land used by the state for a prison need to be controlled by city officials to aid the redevelopment effort to the south. That was one recommendation from an Urban Land Institute and Campaign for Sensible Growth panel, which spent two days in this river town 40 miles southwest of Chicago last week.

City officials are looking for ways to continue Downtown redevelopment efforts, which so far have included a Harrah’s casino and Silver Cross Stadium, the latter used by the Joliet Jackhammers of the independent Northern League.

While city officials hope to lure more retailers Downtown, those efforts could be thwarted by redevelopment of the US Steel site, experts warn. “If you put a Target on that site, any other retailer who wants to take a chance in your Downtown won’t have a chance,” said Chicago retail broker and developer James Matanky.

Attorney Kristina Dalman suggests grocery-anchored retail development could serve the surrounding area. The US Steel and prison sites total about 280 acres.

The ULI and Campaign for Sensible Growth panel suggested issuing request for proposals, first to potential developers of mixed-use residential and retail projects near the crossroads of Cass and Chicago avenues, then for additional multifamily housing within the next two years. Within three years, though, the city should issue requests for proposals for redevelopment of the US Steel and state prison sites, the panel suggested.

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