Old Town Peoria getting facelift

Posted at 2:37 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 17:37:07-04
"Historic" and "exciting."
Those are just a couple of the words Peoria City Councilwoman Vicki Hunt used to describe the vote to move forward on the purchase of three parcels of land that will allow the municipality to revitalize the Old Town area.
"I believe in our heritage and history.  The downtown is where it all started," Hunt said.  "That's Peoria's core, so I feel it's really important to preserve it and bring it in to the 21st century so people really want to come down here and there are businesses for them to come down to."
City Engineering Director Andrew Granger said they have purchase agreements with the owners of the properties, and have yet to make the land acquisition final.  He expects the paperwork to be complete within the next month and people will see those eyesores come down over the next few months.  
"We'll start to clean up those properties, evaluate the buildings and look at what to do to clean up the downtown area so we can spur that economic growth here and in the future," Granger said.
The area includes most of the property from 83rd Avenue to 83rd Drive on the north side of Jefferson Street. The city is hoping to bring in restaurants, retail and possibly some residential space.
"We have different groups interested in the downtown area," Granger said.  "We'll probably work with them and then go out and publicly advertise these properties to see what kind of development we can spur."
Setting the stage for the new look is the revival of the old Fire Station No. 1.  Lucidi Distilling Company opened there just a few months ago. 
In all, Hunt said, the city has been working on this downtown facelift for almost two decades.  She credits the cohesiveness of the current council for the progress.
"They understand it's the core of the city and (the importance of) bringing it back to a thriving place that families can come again and get an ice cream cone with their kids," she said.