The city is helping fund a study to determine if the Hotel Plaza can be converted into apartments.
The Hotel Plaza is a single-room occupancy hotel downtown that has been undergoing extensive renovations, according to management.
The study, funded with city help, is aimed at determining whether it is feasible to remodel sections of the building for apartments.
The Joliet City Council earlier this month agreed to spend $11,000 to split the cost of the engineering study.
“A number of the units are not able to have any residents because they are not up to code,” city economic development specialist Derek Conley said. “Part of this feasibility study is to study the feasibility of bringing those units up to code.”
Many of the rooms at the Hotel Plaza do not have kitchen facilities and have shared bathrooms, according to a staff memo on the incentives.
About 20 of the 98 units need to be made suitable for occupancy.
“A number of factors make this property a priority target for future redevelopment,” the staff memo reads.
The factors listed, in addition to the upgrades needed to bring the building to full occupancy, are:
• Needed improvements on the exterior facade of the building “to restore its original historical elements”
• The potential of the building to provide housing for a downtown residential market
• The location of the Hotel Plaza adjacent to the proposed downtown plaza on Chicago Street
“A redeveloped property will accent the work to be accomplished on the plaza,” according to the memo.
The city is trying to attract more residents downtown as part of a long-term plan to provide a market for restaurants and retailers.
“Our downtown is built on daytime population because of all the offices,” Conley said. “By adding residential downtown, I think we’re going to have more nighttime activity.”
One downtown business, Gji’s Sweet Shoppe, a candy and ice cream store located at the corner of Chicago and Van Buren streets, closed last week. The store also was located on the edge of the future plaza.
Conley said he did not know the reasons for the store’s closing but has been told by the broker handling the site that there is interest.
“They’ve actually already showed the place three times,” Conley said. “It’s a pretty desirable location.”