CenterPoint joins the fight over NorthPoint
Rival developer wants city vote delayed and more details on plan for Compass Global Logistics Hub
By Bob Okon
November 30, 2021 at 5:47 pm CST
CenterPoint Properties has added its voice to NorthPoint opponents.
The developer of the CenterPoint Intermodal Center has filed objections to the NorthPoint plan, pointing to the potential impact on roads running through its own development that spreads across Joliet and Elwood.
The objections are the first public comments made by CenterPoint on the NorthPoint plan, which proposes nearly 2,300 acres of space for warehouses that would rely on the CenterPoint Intermodal Center for routes to intermodal yards and interstates.
The objections were sent to the city on Nov. 18, the day of the public hearing at which the Joliet Plan Commission voted 6-2 to recommend that the City Council approve NorthPoint’s plan for the Compass Global Logistics Hub.
No one from CenterPoint spoke at the hearing. But CenterPoint Chief Development Officer Michael Murphy used the email option provided for public comments included as part of the record.
Murphy called for a tabling of the Plan Commission vote and sent a letter with the same request to Mayor Bob O’Dekirk that day.
He pointed to a number of issues and called for public disclosure of any traffic studies conducted by NorthPoint to show the impact of its plan to develop nearly 2,300 acres for warehouse use now and potentially another 1,200 acres in the future.
“This proposed traffic pattern will have a significant negative impact on the safety and integrity of all intersections and roads, including CenterPoint’s private roads, within the CenterPoint Joliet Terminal,” Murphy’s letter to O’Dekirk states. “In addition, there would be a substantial negative impact on current and proposed businesses in the CenterPoint Joliet Terminal and the motoring public.”
The issue of traffic studies arose at the public hearing when a NorthPoint traffic engineer questioned by a resident said the study for the latest NorthPoint proposal is not complete and may not be done by the time the City Council is to vote on the plan on Dec. 21.
The latest proposal expands the previously approved NorthPoint plan, and the City Council will vote on a new annexation agreement to cover the entire project.
Murphy also sought more information on NorthPoint’s proposed closed-loop network and the bridge over Route 53 that would be built to make it work.
The closed-loop is being designed to keep trucks off of Route 53 and other local roads. Instead they would move between warehouses and the intermodal yards in Joliet and Elwood on roads now in CenterPoint Intermodal Center and to be developed within NorthPoint’s proposed Compass Global Logistics Hub. Instead of using Route 53 to reach Interstate 80, the NorthPoint plan is to send trucks onto the future toll bridge being built by CenterPoint to provide more direct access to the interstate.
Murphy wrote to the mayor that “roads and intersections within the CenterPoint Joliet Terminal are not designed or constructed to accommodate the NorthPoint project.”
Murphy would not comment Monday on the objections he has raised to the project.
O’Dekirk did not return calls but sent an email commenting on CenterPoint’s objections to NorthPoint.
“I understand that CenterPoint would like to monopolize all commerce that is coming through the intermodals, but there is no question that competition in the market is what is best for the people of Joliet, and throughout the region,” O’Dekirk said.
The mayor also said that Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, the operators of the two intermodal yards in CenterPoint Intermodal Center, support the NorthPoint project.
BNSF spokesman Ben Wilemon when asked for a response said the company “supports developments that are approved by appropriate units of government and provide a suitable operating environment for our customers. NorthPoint Development’s proposed Compass Global Logistics Hub serves as an example of this and will benefit the greater Joliet area.”
John Kieken, a leader in the Stop NorthPoint group, said he welcomed CenterPoint’s opposition but added “it’s funny that CenterPoint sat back while others in the community fought hard against NorthPoint, and they haven’t done anything until now.”
Kieken said CenterPoint may be seeking leverage with NorthPoint in future business negotiations.
“I don’t think they’re really in it to stop NorthPoint,” he said.