Route 66 News

Old Joliet prison may be turned into tourism center

The long-closed Joliet Correctional Center just off Route 66 in Joliet, Ill., may be turned into a commercial project that caters mostly to tourists, reports the Herald-News.

Discussions are in an early stage, but ideas include the creation of a museum or other venue that would invite tourists into the old prison on Collins Street.

The developers “feel that the prison has some potential as a mixed-use development,” Councilman Joseph Shetina, chairman of the Land Use Committee, said Tuesday.

The mixed uses could include stores, offices and even residences. […]

The plan is to keep the prison structure intact and try to take advantage of its appeal.

“People are intrigued by old prisons,” said state Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, who co-chairs a task force trying to find new uses for the property.

The prison was closed in 2002. But thanks to its distinctive 19th-century limestone architecture, it continues to be used for film settings, including the television series “Prison Break” and an upcoming Johnny Depp movie, “Public Enemies.” Perhaps its best-known moment on celluloid is the opening scene of “The Blues Brothers.”

The potential developers transformed the Glenview Naval Base into The Glen Club.

The city manager cautioned that talks are just talks at this point. But I’m sure the developers took a look at Joliet’s rapid growth and think this is doable.