Downtown Growth Continues…

Michael Freilinger, Downtown Development Corporation of Peoria

With the completion of several residential renovation projects and the welcoming of many new residents, 2017 has been a successful year for downtown development in Peoria. Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill extending the River Edge Redevelopment Zone and Illinois Historic Tax Credits, providing the necessary gap financing so these historic redevelopment projects can continue. Thanks to the Governor and our local legislators for their bipartisan support of this legislation.

It’s exciting to see the increased foot traffic from people visiting and supporting existing and new businesses in the area. It has been an active year with many activities, including popular festivals and events, plus new markets and outdoor concerts.

The Peoria RiverFront Market experienced its best year yet, with a diverse collection of vendors offering everything from fresh, Illinois-grown food and flowers to local art and handmade items. We have enjoyed many yearly festivals and events, such as Mardi Gras in May, Steamboat Days, St. Jude RunDay FunDay, Sculpture Walk Peoria, Ignite Peoria, Peoria Irish Fest, India Fest and the Peoria Blues and Heritage Festival. The Limelight Eventplex brought an unprecedented amount of people to Peoria’s downtown with their Tailgate N’ Tallboys series of live outdoor concerts. Kelleher’s street parties and band nights are always popular, and the summer season would not be complete without enjoying our Peoria Chiefs’ baseball games and family nights, complete with fireworks!

In the Warehouse District, the new Tianguis Mexican Outdoor Market opened, and Zion Coffee hosted a successful makers market, along with establishing a monthly supper club venue. Wheel Art Pottery Studios had a busy summer and continues to grow strong and expand its workshop, class and studio offerings. The Winkler Art Studios have completed their studio spaces and have begun to rent space to local artists. Gone in 60 Escape Games opened its doors for all kinds of entertainment for family and friend outings, date nights, and team-building opportunities for company outings.

The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB) and Peoria RiverFront Association offer helpful event calendars and information on their websites, so if you are looking for something to do, visit enjoypeoria.com or visitdowntownpeoria.com.

One of the newest commercial projects in progress is the renovation of the old Julian Hotel building, which will now be called Stonewood. The developers, Kelly and Ashley Petersen, are moving forward by reinventing the property to become residential condominiums. This will be an interesting project to watch develop.

To promote downtown development and bring visitors to area attractions and businesses, the DDC, in partnership with the PACVB, is producing a series of videos featuring all the newly-renovated loft buildings, as well as some of the activities and events to enjoy in Downtown Peoria. This project has been a great opportunity to showcase the interiors of the downtown lofts and exhibit the wide variety of residential options available. There is truly a place for everyone. We look forward to sharing the videos with the public at a reception to be announced soon.

The DDC is happy to say that the growth trend continues to move forward, with many new commercial development opportunities currently being explored. We look forward to helping more new businesses explore the possibilities and open shop in the near-future in Downtown Peoria. iBi

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