Will County Courthouse Demolished Ahead of Schedule | Trending Viral hub

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After nearly four months, the old Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet is a shadow of its former self.

“The building is actually collapsing much more easily than originally thought,” said Bill Fern, facilities director.

The courthouse is expected to be leveled next week and then concrete and other construction debris will be removed, said Dave Tkac, director of capital programming.

The basement foundation will be demolished and then fill will be brought to the site to improve it, he said.

“It’s on schedule,” Tkac said. “You can see it well. We anticipated finishing in July. “We hope to do a little better than that and we are on our way to doing better.”

Demolition work underway on February 17, 2024 at the old Will County Courthouse.  (Brett Johnson/Southtown Journal)

Brett Johnson/DailySouthtown

Demolition work underway on February 17, 2024 at the old Will County Courthouse. (Brett Johnson/Southtown Journal)

Work on the basement, which at one time served as the county jail, is expected to take about a month, said Mike Theodore, spokesman for the county executive’s office.

Demolition equipment began to knock down the old courthouse, 14 W. Jefferson St., in December.

The courthouse closed in November 2020 when the new courthouse down the street opened.

The Will County Board in 2019 approved the demolition of the building after officials determined renovation work would be too costly.

The basic skeleton remains at the former Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet.  (Michelle Mullins/for Daily Southtown)

(Michelle Mullins/for Daily Southtown)

The basic skeleton remains at the former Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet. (Michelle Mullins/for Daily Southtown)

For nearly two years, some local residents, developers, preservation groups and elected officials pushed for save and reuse the courthousebut those efforts ultimately failed.

Carol Stream’s American Demolition Corporation received an award of almost $1.5 million contract last fall to demolish the building.

Restoration of the site will occur in late April or early May, Theodore said.

A grass space will be created on the south side of the site, and the concrete plaza on the north side with its statues and historical plaques will be opened to the public while the county board decides the future of the site. Anything beyond creating a level grassy area would have to be approved by the county board as part of its fiscal year 2025 budget, Theodore said.

The demolition is on budget and there have been no change orders, Theodore said.

“The Facilities Department is pleased with the progress so far,” he said. “The operation was safe and timely.”

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has said the land donated for the courthouse stipulated that remain for public use.

Demolition continues April 1, 2024 at the former Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet.  (Michelle Mullins/for Daily Southtown)

(Michelle Mullins/for Daily Southtown)

Demolition continues April 1, 2024 at the former Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet. (Michelle Mullins/for Daily Southtown)

The county executive’s office is working with interested parties on short-term possibilities for the site and long-term options, and any use must comply with public use mandates.

“I am committed to ensuring that the decision we make for this property, at a key gateway to downtown Joliet, aligns with the priorities of both Will County government and the city of Joliet,” said County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Janet Diaz, a Democrat from Joliet and chairwoman of the court’s ad hoc committee, said members are brainstorming ideas for the site once it is vacant. One possibility includes ensuring it can become a destination area where people sit and have lunch. Another option would be to invite food trucks to the site. The committee is also considering using a piece of the rubble to turn it into an artistic work that can be displayed, Díaz said.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter.

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