Downtown Growth: Historic Happenings

by Michael J. Freilinger
Photography by Pam Cooley

An update on the latest projects coming to life in Downtown Peoria...

Did you know that Downtown Peoria is in the National Register of Historic Places? As of December 2018, much of Peoria’s downtown has been added to the official list of our country's historic buildings, districts, sites, structures and objects worthy of preservation. The designation for the Downtown Peoria Historic District—a 17-block swath of downtown—is crucial for developers looking to access historic tax credits to renovate buildings for new uses. 

“This distinction provides developers with the opportunity to take advantage of tax credits that can rehab our historic properties for today’s market and provide new development, attractions and amenities to an area that is already seeing investment nearby in the Warehouse District,” noted Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Speaking of Peoria’s Warehouse District, you may want to come down to see for yourself what’s happening. We are excited to welcome several new businesses to this blossoming section of the city. Venue Chisca is a brand-new, elegant banquet and special event facility featuring multiple indoor spaces and 17,000 square feet of outdoor green space. It is accompanied by Heaven on Earth, an upscale design studio, both owned and operated by Michelle Spurgeon. 


Venue Chisca is a brand-new, elegant banquet and special event facility in Peoria’s Warehouse District—a unique mix of brick, crystal, glass and wood elements. Rentals are provided by Heaven on Earth Event Design Studio, which is housed in the same location.

First Ascent, an indoor climbing gym from the Chicago area, partnered with local Peoria climbers to bring First Ascent Peoria to life at 927 SW Washington Street. The 20,000-square-foot facility opened its doors in January. Also located on Peoria’s iconic riverfront, Meltdown Creative Works opened in February at 305 Water Street. MCW offers the best in graphic design, signs and screen-printing services in central Illinois. 

Right next to Gone in 60 Escape Games, the Warehouse District’s latest attraction, Gone Axe Throwing, will open for business this spring along Washington Street, bringing the thrill of this hot new sport to Peoria. These “new kids on the block” join established restaurants, coffee shops, commercial and retail businesses in the Warehouse District. And if you would like to be an urban dweller, Leman Property Management Co. is offering yet another downtown living option: Element Lofts located on the Peoria riverfront, scheduled to open this summer. 

Finally, we have it on good authority that at least three to five additional properties will soon be under contract for development in the Warehouse District. We look forward to bringing you news in the next few months of significant growth and development for several mixed-use, residential and commercial properties, along with parking to accommodate all. We have plenty of room to grow and foresee many opportunities for developers looking for that urban footprint. For more information on development opportunities in Downtown Peoria, visit downtownpeoria.us. iBi

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