Destination Downtown!

After surviving a challenging year, we are excited to see the downtown grow in 2021.

by Michael J. Freilinger, Downtown Development Corporation of Peoria
LOFTIE Spaces & Events offers a variety of short-term loft rentals and meeting spaces, including the selfie room.
LOFTIE Spaces & Events offers a variety of short-term loft rentals and meeting spaces, including the selfie room.

The Downtown Development Corporation of Peoria (DDC) was formed in 2013 as a nonprofit, standalone corporation designed to bring private and public interests together for a common goal: creating a vibrant environment for people to live, work and play. A thriving downtown benefits not only Peoria, but our region’s economy as a whole.

Resilient In Challenging Times

We all know that 2020 was a challenging year for everyone—especially small businesses who were unable to remain open for a large portion of the year. As an advocate for Downtown Peoria, the DDC jumped in with both feet. We were able to partner with the Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association (HOIHA) and the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB) to launch a multi-month media blitz encouraging people to patronize downtown restaurants to help keep them afloat. The campaign was hugely successful, and most of those restaurants are rallying and coming back to life.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, we watched numerous small businesses start up and saw the OSF OnCall Center open its doors, eventually bringing several hundred employees downtown. We promoted growth in the downtown by working with property owners to realize their dreams of redeveloping buildings into residential living spaces and commercial properties.

It was exciting to see Pop-A-Shot and its arcade basketball games thrive as families looked for ways to stay entertained at home. Black Band Distillery, which was on the verge of opening in March 2020, quickly pivoted to produce hand sanitizer, while putting their whiskey production on hold. These are just a few examples of resilience and fortitude in the midst of challenging times.

Looking Ahead

As we move forward in 2021, we are excited to see even more new growth downtown. We welcome the addition of LOFTIE Spaces & Events on Washington Street—a 36-unit AirBnB, coffee shop, event and meeting space, and gift shop. Nearby, 146 housing units are expected to hit the market this year, with 120 of them located at the former Builders Warehouse site at 812 SW Washington. Restaurants, museums, farmers’ markets, and the arts and entertainment industry are making plans to light up the riverfront once again, much like the Murray Baker Bridge has done with its recent upgrade.

The DDC stands ready to meet the needs of our community. We invite interested investors to come take a look at downtown Peoria for all it has to offer. We are anxious to host and celebrate ribbon cuttings for our newest businesses and to watch them grow and thrive. With the dedication and expertise of our board of directors, I am confident that downtown Peoria will remain a destination for all to enjoy for many years to come. PM

For more information, visit downtownpeoria.us.

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