A two-hotel development with an attached restaurant and 8,000-square-foot conference center would be built on Houbolt Road, just off Interstate 80, under plans submitted to the city of Joliet.
The project calls for a 120-room, five-story Holiday Inn Express and an 80-room Candlewood Suites that would share a lobby area, outdoor patio garden, swimming pool and other amenities, Joliet Planner Jim Torri said.
It's proposed for a location northwest of Houbolt and I-80, behind an existing Burger King on Rock Creek Boulevard, Torri said.
Assuming the development wins city approval for variances on such issues as building and sign height, construction could be under way this summer and work completed by spring 2014, he said.
It is the second major development to be announced for Joliet in the last two weeks. The other is the Route 66 Food N Fun Travel Center, a gas station complex that will feature a convenience store, liquor store, Dunkin' Donuts and Pop's Italian Beef restaurant on a site at Route 53 and Laraway Road.
The hotel project was submitted by Hospitality Guru Group, based in Aurora, which has built similar projects across the Midwest, including developments in Rochelle, Ill., Janesville, Wis., and Cincinnati, Ohio.
One of the more appealing aspects of the Joliet project will be its use of a retention pond as a water feature with fountains around which an outdoor patio will be built, Torri said.
But equally appealing to city officials is the proposed conference center, which will be large enough to host small- and medium-sized conventions and events, City Manager Tom Thanas said.
That fills a big void for Joliet, allowing the city to compete for events with such towns as Champaign and Galena, which already have conference centers, he said.
"We (also) think this shows that the hotel market here isn't saturated yet either," Thanas said.
The project goes before the Joliet Zoning Board of Approvals Thursday afternoon. Among other things, developers are asking for a height variance that will allow for a five-story hotel, two stories higher than allowed under city ordinances, Torri said.
Hospitality would also like permission to erect an 80-foot-tall sign, which is 30 feet higher than allowed, Torri said. The increased height is necessary to provide visibility from eastbound Interstate 80 over a line of trees that would otherwise obscure it, he said.