When the Joliet Arsenal was developed by the U.S. Army in the early 1940’s as a manufacturing plant for munitions, the 26,500-acre site 40 miles southwest of Chicago was selected because it was ideally situated adjacent to a major railroad line and within commuting distance for a large pool of skilled and semi-skilled labor.
In the following decades, the Arsenal became one of metropolitan Chicago’s largest employers, with more than 12,000 Illinois residents on its payroll during peak production years. The Arsenal provided munitions critical throughout World War II as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. In 1976 the Arsenal was decommissioned, leaving offices and factories as mute reminders of a once productive military installation. The U.S. Army declared the Joliet Arsenal excess property in 1993.
When Congress passed legislation in 1995 to transfer the land for remediation, the Arsenal site was subdivided for both public and private use. The Joliet Arsenal Development Authority (JADA), through the state of Illinois, was established. The role of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority (JADA) is the adaptive reuse and transformation of 3,000 acres of land formerly known as the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. Our goal is to create quality job opportunities and foster economic development in the Will County area.
During the planning stages, the project brought together virtually all levels of government, more than a dozen public agencies and private industry to benefit the community under a common plan.
By 2000, JADA received the first transfer of land from the U.S. Army. Soon after, construction began on what is now known as the CenterPoint Intermodal Center –Elwood, and features an ultra-modern 1,500-acre industrial park.
Following suit, the BNSF logistics park opened. This facility integrated several modes of transportation—direct rail, truck, transload and intermodal. This state-of-the-art logistics center serves as a central location for the gathering and distribution of goods in the Midwestern United States.
With the successful redevelopment on the west side of Route 53, it was only a matter of time for redevelopment to take hold on the east side, the area formerly known as the Island City Industrial Park.
300 acres of the former Island City Industrial Park were purchased by the International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 150 to build a state-of-the-art Apprenticeship & Skill Improvement Training Facility. With the increased need for skilled men and women in the operating engineering trade, there came a need for a larger training facility. Property at the former Joliet Arsenal was the ideal location— centrally located and closer to the development sites, and sites that are to come.
Soon after, JADA entered into an agreement with ProLogis to develop a 775-acre warehouse and distribution park, called the ProLogis Park Arsenal. This project is designed to accommodate regional and super regional distribution centers.
So far, more than 2,000 permanent jobs have been created as a result of the transfer and redevelopment of the land transferred to JADA. Over 1,800 construction jobs, totaling an approximate $150 million in wages, have also been beneficial to the economy. These numbers will continue to grow with the continued redevelopment of the former Joliet Arsenal.
JADA continues to successfully transform 3,000 acres of the former Joliet Arsenal into manufacturing and distribution business parks. In addition, overall economic growth of the region continues to increase the value of three of JADA’s major accomplishments—CenterPoint Intermodal Center, ProLogis Park Arsenal, and the Operating Engineers Apprenticeship & Skill Improvement Training Facility.