• Andrew Finein

City of Joliet Seeks Transfer of Ownership of Rialto

Photo courtesy of route66guide.com

After continuing financial troubles, Joliet City Manager Jim Hock proposed a new plan to the city council to save the Rialto Square Theatre. Hock proposed the city adopt a resolution that would ask state lawmakers to introduce legislation that would transfer ownership of the Rialto to the city.

In August, the Rialto board voted to have a third-party, VenuWorks, manage the theatre, but the financial shortfalls haven’t gotten much better. In the fall, VenuWorks sent a letter to the city requesting $500,000 for the next fiscal year. The city does not currently have any funding for the theatre in the proposed budget. Hock also told the city council that Rialto officials proposed an intergovernmental agreement last week where the city would commit to funding for four years.

Hock’s proposal however would grant the city full ownership and control of the Rialto and its properties. “The city will sell the office buildings that aren't part of the theatre to the private sector, will pay off all the bills the Rialto board has approved for payment but have not paid and will assume the renovation loan obligation of approximately $2.4 million,” Hock said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. Under the proposal, the city would manage the non-concert events, such as weddings, recitals and other private events. They city however would enter into contracts with entertainment vendors such as Harrah’s to put on concerts and performance. “This is not a proposal for this year or the next four years, but forever,” Hock said.

Currently, the City of Joliet owns multiple downtown landmarks. “We own the baseball stadium [Silver Cross Field], the building in right field, Union Station, soon a new train station, a new bus station, along with a historical museum [Joliet Area Historical Museum],” Hock explained. “This proposal to me seems like a natural progression of the commitment the city has made to the downtown.”

The city council did not take action on the proposal, nor did any councilmembers comment publically on it.

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