Route 66 News

Downtown Joliet church soon will be auctioned

The historic but long-closed St. Mary Carmelite Church in downtown Joliet, Ill., will be auctioned Oct. 23 after attempts to convert it to senior housing stalled, according to The Herald-News and other media outlets.

Scott Henry of Celadon Holdings hopes the building will fetch at least $278,000, which was about was put spent on the church for upkeep and redevelopment plans. The appraised value is $1.45 million.

According to a Herald-News article on Sept. 21:

Less than two weeks ago, Henry told The Herald-News that while the senior housing project was stalled for lack of financing, he still intended to move forward. He said Friday that the project will continue if Celadon does not get the minimum price at the auction, which will take place Oct. 23.

“We really believe in the project, and we believe there is a need for this type of housing in Joliet,” Henry said. “It’s a project that can happen. We just came to the conclusion that from a practical standpoint, getting to the finish line will be a very long process.” […]

The diocese was ready to demolish the church when Henry came forward with his plan, which appeared at the time to be a way to save the structure that’s still a prominent part of the downtown skyline and a symbol of Joliet’s 19th century origins. St. Mary Carmelite was the second Catholic parish in the city.

One of the key financing issues was Celadon was unable to acquire a federal tax credit for the renovations. And there is one other complication, according to a Herald-News article in early September:

Meanwhile, a special use zoning permit granted for the project has expired. Henry would have to get another special use permit from Joliet, which is being sued for granting the initial permit. […]

Demolition may have to be considered if Henry cannot move forward with the project, said James Haller, the city’s director of community and economic development. […]

At least one person who favors demolition is Richard Kavanagh, whose law firm is next to the church. The firm sued Joliet for allowing the special use permit, contending that the 40 apartments planned for the building exceed the city’s housing density regulations. The lawsuit is still in court.

The city manager said Joliet’s residency rules didn’t apply to senior housing, which was planned for the church.

St. Mary Carmelite, built in 1882, is the second-oldest church building in Joliet. It was designed by the same architect who designed Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, Patrick C. Keeley. The church closed in 1991.

At one point, Celadon was hoping to open a Route 66 welcome center in the church, as well as converting it to senior housing.

The auction will be by Inland Real Estate at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 in a banquet room at the company’s office at 2901 Butterfield Road. Inland also will hold inspections of the church from noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 8 and from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 17.

(Hit tip to Maria Traska)

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