June 12, 2021

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East Peoria Levee District reworked into bustling vacation spot

6 min read

East Peoria’s Levee District commenced its existence when Caterpillar began to shrink.

Until the 1990s, the district experienced been largely comprised of about one particular million square feet of Caterpillar factories and workplaces. When buildings ended up demolished and the web page was cleared, the metropolis was remaining with “vacant brown house,” in accordance to Rick Swan, the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce executive director.

“The town fathers, starting off with (East Peoria Mayor) Jim Spinder, commenced looking at the spot and stated ‘We will need to do anything,’” Swan included.

Probably simply because the region had been household to an industrial advanced, the city’s preliminary approach was to acquire an industrial park there. But the East Peoria City Council noticed other alternatives in the area’s central area, in accordance to Ty Livingston, the city’s director of arranging and improvement.

“Much of it was driven by current market-demand from customers,” Livingston stated. “Given its central spot within the metropolitan location, East Peoria is a all-natural match for a variety of vendors and eating places that want quick accessibility and outstanding visibility from key routes like I-74 and Principal Avenue.”

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This Journal Star file photo from Oct. 5, 2010 shows an aerial view of the development of the Levee District between Camp Street at the far right and Washington Street on the left in East Peoria.

Livingston extra that the first strategies for the Levee District were drafted in 2000 and 2001, and improvement commenced in earnest in 2007 and 2008. The economic downturn of 2007-2009 slowed down improvement not only in central Illinois, but all through the United States. The city utilised the economic downtown to coordinate with the grasp developer for the district, Cullinan Attributes, Ltd., and important anchor companies like Costco, Concentrate on, and Vacation Inn and Suites.

“As the nation’s overall economy pulled out of the economic downturn, we have been capable to hit the ground jogging,” Livingston mentioned.

A sense of local community in redevelopment

East Peoria city officers saw the Levee District’s likely as a nucleus for group routines from the outset, and invested in the district’s potential by transferring East Peoria City Corridor to a parcel of city-owned residence there, in accordance to Swan. Infrastructure and web-site enhancement offered a problem since of the need to have to reconfigure the spot.

A $26 million grant from the state of Illinois served start the Levee District’s redevelopment, and city officials’ endeavours to draw in retail companies in the long run built the Levee District the regional draw it is today.

“We do numerous distinctive situations down there, this kind of as vehicle displays and walks or operates for charity, and there’s a farmers industry there,” Swan extra. “The specific events we have there convey a tremendous range of individuals to that space. Though they’re there, they’re likely to eat and store.”

Customers walk under the Levee District sign in East Peoria.

3 decades after Caterpillar downsized its presence in the Levee District, the area is now a thriving searching and eating destination that proceeds to attract not only visitors, but new firms.

Whilst Eggcellent Café has only been open for about two weeks, co-proprietor Tim Halili has previously seen the positive aspects of getting a retail store front in such a large-targeted visitors area and is impressed with the warm welcome he and spouse and co-owner Besa have been given from the neighborhood business community.

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