Market Study for in and near downtown housing

The housing market research firm Tracy Cross presented their assessment of demand for new and rehabbed housing in and near downtown Peoria. The demand for new housing is strong.

"Downtown Peoria and the nearby areas could add nearly 200 living units annually.
The demand is there," said Erik Doersching, executive vice president with Tracy Cross & Associates Inc. of Schaumburg, the company that developed the study. There is the potential for 168 new rental units - 102 of those from the redevelopment of buildings already within the Warehouse District into loft apartments. There could be an additional 16 "for sale" condominiums and 10 row or townhomes within the district.

Read the presentation below:

Market Study Presentation

Now would be a good time to start the Heart of Peoria Development Corporation, which would bring equity capital for Heart of Peoria housing development, and spread the risk. More information at:





Alumni Housing Near Universities

Some recent articles on senior communities affiliated with colleges have appeared in the press and should be of interest to administrators thinking about such projects at their institutions to attract alumni.


Gerard Badler
Managing Director
Campus Continuum
17 Cushing Street
Newton, MA 02461

email: gbadler@campuscontinuum.com
phone: 617 964-2422


Great New Book

Chicago City Planning Consultant Doug Farr has written a great book, Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature.

Doug Farr believes that "sustainable urbanism" is more than designing green buildings. It also includes the creation of green neighborhoods and planning for sustainable urban growth. Farr describes the design reform movement and gives tips on how to create sustainable urbanism through leadership and communication in cities, communities, and neighborhoods.

Doug Farr is the founding principal and president of Farr Associates, a Chicago-based architectural firm dedicated to sustainable urbanism. He has served as co-chair of the Environmental Task Force of the Congress for the New Urbanism, chair of the AIA Chicago Committee on the Environment, and chair of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Core Committees. He also developed form based codes for Bloomington and Normal, Illinois.

For more information about Doug Farr and Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature, visit the Farr Associates web site at www.farrside.com

New Urbanism and Sustainable Sevelopment

Good article about new urbanism and sustainable development. The two concepts go together very well.


Green Peoria

City staff have developed several plans for the consideration of the Citizens of Peoria, the Planning Commission and the Heart of Peoria Commission. All the documents are early drafts, and have not been adopted by City Council. Staff have presented the concept plans to numerous citizen groups, and the plans have been substantially revised as a result of extensive citizen input. Staff are asking for additional citizen input and Commission approval. Please send your thoughts and recommendations to Craighullinger@gmail.com

These plans can be considered for addition to the Comprehensive Plan and Heart of Peoria Plan.

These plans include:

1. Green Peoria Plan

2. Green Heart of Peoria Plan

3. River’s Edge Redevelopment Initiative

4. Green Edge

5. River Trail Drive


The proposed Green Peoria / Green Heart of Peoria which would add "green" sustainable principles and goals to the Comprehensive Plan and Heart of Peoria Plan. Most of the principles are appropriate for the entire City and for the Heart of Peoria. These green goals include efforts to:

* Improve and Enhance our Environment
* Live Close to Downtown and the River
* Conserve Our Neighborhoods
* Encourage Sustainable Development
* Save Time and Energy - Walk to Work

Historic Peoria is an inherently "Green" City. Peoria was originally built at high density. Trips to work, shopping, and schools were made by walking or a short streetcar ride. The historic city was energy efficient.

Modern American urban development is auto oriented, with large homes on large lots distant from destinations. Modern suburban development is built at low density. Long auto trips waste a great deal of time and energy.

Our historic “Heart of Peoria has "hollowed out". Most retail has left downtown, and a great deal of near in housing has been demolished. Historic older buildings are often underutilized.

The following are potential improvements to "Green" the Heart of Peoria:

· Energy efficiency in all buildings is encouraged
· Developers are encouraged to create green housing
· Mixed use development will be emphasized
· Historic buildings will be adaptively reused
· Walk ability of the city will be encouraged
· Incentives will be employed to support improvements
· Energy efficient buildings will be required
· Sedimentation & erosion controls will be enforced
· The environment of the River's edge will be enhanced
· Bike trails & racks will be emphasized
· Transit will be maintained
· Trees and natural landscaping will be planted
· Renewable energy sources will be sought
· Recycling will be supported
· Air and water quality will be improved

More info at:




The River’s Edge Redevelopment Initiative would improve and enhance the appearance of the area along the Illinois River. A major industrial area known as Eagle View would be created at I-474 and the River, with a large open space known by the same name. Adams and Washington street would be improved, and the appearance substantially enhanced. The Warehouse District would be redeveloped into a vibrant mixed use area. Open space would be created where possible along the River. The City has created two new Tax Increment Financings Districts to help bring this redevelopment about. Six business owners have signed redevelopment agreements and improved their property, and numerous other business owners are considering redevelopments.

More info at:




The Green Edge Plan covers the area along the Illinois River from the Riverplex and Washington Street. This plan envisions a public “Green Edge” along the river from Water Street to War Memorial Drive. Over time, the existing river edge can be converted to parks, a riverfront drive, and new residential development.

Currently this area is primarily industrial with two marinas and parks. This plan proposes that the entire rivers edge become a linear park with a scenic drive connecting from Water Street north to Grand View Drive, with new homes, additional public park land, beautification of the area, and enhancement to the natural ecosystem. Staff have proposed to the property owners that they donate the flood way area along the river. This land has little value to the owners, since it cannot be built on, and is a liability.

By donating the land the owners get a tax write off and good public relations. The Park District or IDNR could own this land. Land owners are also encouraged to donate an additional 50 feet, which would be right of way for the new road. The property owners would keep the adjacent land, which could be developed as mixed use development, and which would pay for the road. This plan will likely take many years to implement, but there is interest among some of the property owners. There is also some opposition. Implementation of this plan is completely voluntary - if the property owner do not like the plan, they do not have to implement it. That is why it will probably take many years to implement.

More info at: http://greenedgepeoria.blogspot.com/


This can be described as the first phase of the Green Edge Plan, and would cover the City owned land from Spring Street south to Water Street.This plan would construct a road through the park parallel to the railroad tracks, providing access and parking to the park and attractive vistas over the Illinois River and Lake. It would also create residential property between the railroad tracks and new road, providing new housing in the Heart of Peoria. It would add security to the park, with homeowners watching the park.

To replace the approximately 7 acres used for the road and park, 7 acres of new ecosystem restoration park would be added from River sediment. This plan proposes two islands, one for wildlife habitat and one for pedestrian access. The interior lagoons would provide improved fishing and water bird habitat.

Environmental Groups have proposed two alternates to this plan. One would be to leave the park as it is presently configured. The other would be to build just the road, without the islands or housing.

If the City Council approves this plan a Request for Proposal (RFP) would be issued, and a quality developer sought to build the development.

Additional information and detailed maps can be reviewed at www.peoriaed.blogspot.com and http://www.greenpeoria.blogspot.com/

Questions or comments can be sent to Craig Hullinger at hullingerc@gmail.com.

Thank you for your review and interest.


Neighborhood Newsletter Grant

Notice of funding availability for the 2008 Neighborhood Newsletter Grant

The 2008 Neighborhood Newsletter Grant application is now available to neighborhood associations located within the City of Peoria. For 2008, the City Council has approved a maximum of $10,000 to support the production and distribution of newsletters throughout the five council districts. To be eligible for the grant, neighborhood associations must be registered with the Planning & Growth Management Department, Neighborhood Division.

Grant applications are available at the Planning & Growth Management Department, Suite 402, Twin Towers Building, 456 Fulton Street. Applications can also be downloaded from the City’s website:
www.ci.peoria.il.us. Go to Government, H-Z Departments, Planning Department, Neighborhoods, Applications & Forms. Go to Newsletter Grant. Grant applications have been emailed to the contact persons listed in the City’s Neighborhood Association Directory.

For information contact Steve Fairbanks at 494-8603.


Market Study for in and near downtown housing

Market Study for in and near downtown housing

The City of Peoria has retained the prestigious housing market research firm of Tracy Cross to assess the market for new and rehabbed housing in and near downtown Peoria. The firm will present their findings at an open meeting at the City Council Chambers of the 4th floor of City Hall at 419 Fulton Street at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, February 26, 2008. The firm will answer questions.

Anyone interested in urban redevelopment in Peoria, or in developing, building, or living in or near downtown Peoria is encouraged to attend.
http://www.tcrossinc.com/http://www.peoriaed.blogspot.com/ Tracy Cross & Associates, Inc. is a professional consulting group serving the residential real estate industry in the areas of market analysis, strategy development, and product planning. From population demographics, through economic variables, area comparables and locational factors, to growth and absorption projections, the firm's primary goal is to identify residential market opportunities where they exist, and to define what the market is and what it is not, thereby guiding its client base each step of the way along a rational, workable path to success.

Tracy Cross & Associates was founded in 1980 and represents virtually all major Chicagoland developers, builders and their lender partners as well as many pubic agencies and governmental bodies. On a national scale, the firm's expertise has led the company into the planning framework of larger-scale master-planned communities, numerous suburban developments, local redevelopment areas, and infill initiatives in inner cities and in mature, built-up suburban areas. Geographic areas of specialized focus include virtually all metropolitan regions in the Midwest, along with various markets in the South Atlantic, South Central, and Mountain regions of the country.

For Peoria, our firm conducted a detailed economic, demographic and residential analysis in order to provide insight into what, if any, housing potentials exist in downtown Peoria (and the Warehouse District in particular) during the next ten years. Levels of opportunity have been identified with these potentials to be presented on Tuesday, February 26, 2008.

Wanted - Walkable Urban Living

Over the weekend, I read this great article ("The Next Slum?") in the Atlantic Monthly. The money quote:

"In most metropolitan areas, only 5 to 10 percent of the housing stock is located in walkable urban places (including places like downtown White Plains and Belmar). Yet recent consumer research by Jonathan Levine of the University of Michigan and Lawrence Frank of the University of British Columbia suggests that roughly one in three homeowners would prefer to live in these types of places. In one study, for instance, Levine and his colleagues asked more than 1,600 mostly suburban residents of the Atlanta and Boston metro areas to hypothetically trade off typical suburban amenities (such as large living spaces) against typical urban ones (like living within walking distance of retail districts). All in all, they found that only about a third of the people surveyed solidly preferred traditional suburban lifestyles, featuring large houses and lots of driving. Another third, roughly, had mixed feelings. The final third wanted to live in mixed-use, walkable urban areas—but most had no way to do so at an affordable price. Over time, as urban and faux-urban building continues, that will change."

I found that "1/3" number interesting. In our informal survey a few years ago, about 1/3 of respondents said they wanted to live downtown. Additionally, 796 people have (so far) answered the following question on the ongoing Comp Plan survey: "Would you like to live in a neighborhood within walking distance from downtown Peoria and the waterfront?" 286 of them said yes -- 35.9%. A small sample to be sure, but in line with all the other evidence we've gathered.

Christopher Setti 6 Sigma Black Belt
City of Peoria

Cat & Peoria - Great Video

Caterpillar and Peoria were featured on the CBS Evening News. Great piece - you can watch this streaming video. Thanks to Chris Setti for sharing.


Meetings - Green Edge, River Trail Drive Plan

Monday February 18, 2008 4:00 to 6:00 pm drop in on the 4th floor of City Hall at 419 Fulton Street

Wednesday February 20, 2008 at 1:30 pm at City Hall on the 4th floor before the Planning Commission.

You are welcome to attend and voice your concerns / ask your questions.


Long Term Acute Care Hospital

The Hospital is now under construction at Romeo B. Garrett and Hightower Street, bringing jobs and tax base. Our compliments to Cullinan Properties, Methodist Medical Center and the Rehab Care Group on this great new facility. The new specialty Long Term Acute Care Hospital will consist of 100 beds in Peoria's Southtown area.

Read about it at:

Historic Street Car Map

Great Historical Map of Peoria from 1920, showing street car lines, on the web page below. The City has grown substantially since then.


Thanks to Sharon Deckard for sharing


Potential Riverfront Development

Email and drawings from our Environmental Engineering Consultant on the proposed islands.

Craig, Attached are the islands perspective that Paul and I put together for you. In the drawing, you will find an overview of the two islands with an enhanced existing shoreline; a vignette of a close-up view of the area between the two islands; and finally a colored plan view of the island component of the project.

I know you would like to swap the wildlife island and the recreation island. But after consulting with our landscape architect, we feel that the original concept should stay for both practical and various design reasons. Placement of the access ramp is best at the current proposed location. There may not be enough room to do so at the lower island because the bluff narrows down in that area. Also, we'd like to place the overlook tower to be aligned with Norton Street. Streets leading to the lower island are blocked by the PMP buildings. In addition, there needs to be a short separation between the Riverplex and the recreation island from a design standpoint. It is only a short walk between the two focal points; plus people will be able to enjoy the view of the river scenery and wildlife on their way to the recreation island.

Let me know if you need any quick changes to the drawing.

Jack T.P. Chan, Ph.D., P.E.
Water Resources Engineer

525 East North Street, Suite F
Bradley, IL 60915
Email: jchan@lrmg.net
Phone: 815.928.8990 x228
Fax: 815.928.8606


View Download

74K View Download

More info at http://www.greenpeoria.blogspot.com/


Great Story about Peoria on the US News and World Report.

Read all about it at:


Peoria, Ill.: Caterpillar’s Exports Buoy City

Globalization plays in Peoria as the weak dollar brings benefits

By Liz Wolgemuth Posted January 31, 2008

Median household income: $47,266

Unemployment rate: 5.1 percent

Median home price: $125,200


The City of Paducah, Kentucky, has developed an aggressive artist relocation program



This might be a very fine program for Peoria if we could find the time and resources to pursue it.


Toledo and Peoria

The City of Toledo, Ohio, is similar to Peoria in some ways. Read about their redevelopment efforts. Thanks to Jim Helms for telling us about it.


They have a redeveloping Warehouse District on Adams Street and a River West redevelopment area.



And they have a nice minor league baseball stadium and team

World-class Mud Hens stadium

World Famous Mud Hens:

With the Toledo “Hen House”

just a two-minute walk from

River West Town Homes,

we are sure you’ll want to

consider taking in a few

games during the season.


Questions and Answers about the Green Edge Plan

The Green Edge Plan and River Trail Drive Plan is of course controversial. The use of public open space for another use will naturally develop opposition.

The following are questions and comments posed by various people, followed by my response in bold. Please feel free to ask any question or make any response, and I will respond. Please send your question or comment to Craighullinger@gmail.com. More detail is available on the plan in this blog, at http://www.greenpeoria.blogspot.com/ , and at the Economic Development Department on the 4th floor of City Hall. Please feel free to drop in and take a look at the concept plans.

Q. I am confused about the plan. Is it just for the river park, or all the way to Memorial Drive?

A. The River Trail Plan is just for the City owned property between the Water and Spring Street. The Green Edge Plan is for all the area between Water Street and to just north of War Memorial drive, tying back into Grand View Drive. The River Trail Drive plan could be developed rather quickly, over the next 3 to 5 years. The Green Edge Plan will take a long time, and relies on willing land owners. There are a total of nine land owners between Water Street and War Memorial Drive.

Q. Don't take my property.

We have no plans to take anyones land or home. The River Trail Drive plan is on city owned land. The Green Edge Plan is partly on privately held property, and will only happen if the owners want it to happen.

Q. This is done deal and developers have been lined up to develop our great riverfront open space.

A. It is not a done deal. If the citizens of Peoria object to this development, we will drop it and move to other redevelopment efforts. If the Planning Commission and City Council do not approve the plan, it will not go forward.

Q. Won't this proposed development take land that is currently used for open space?

A. Yes. An area east ofthe railroad tracks would be used. Approximately sixty feet would be used for residential development, and approximately forty feet would be used for the road and parking on the west side of the new road, preserving views of the lake and park.

This loss of open space would be mitigated in two ways. New park land islands would be constructed next to the park, with total land area of about 7 acres, equal to the land taken for the new housing and road. So there would be no net loss of open space.

In addition, the land was originally purchased with grants. The money received from the sale of land must be reinvested in open space at a location approved by the State of Illinois Department of Natural Resources. They have told us we cannot use the proceeds on the islands, which don't yet exist. So the loss of the approximatley 7 acres along the railroad would be replaced twice - once in the islands and again in a to be determined location.

This development does take river / lake area, though. We would be taking about 120 feet of river/lake (100 feet for the new land, and about 20 feet of water between the islands and existing shore line). The lake is about 7,500 feet wide. I don't think most people would notice a 1/75th reduction in the Lake width. And the Rivers edge would be far more interesting and ecologically diverse with the islands and intervening estuary and wetland.


Q. There is no guarantee that the islands will be built.

A. The approval request will be made to the Planning Commission and City Council stipulating that the Islands must be part of the development.

We have verbally asked and will formally ask the Corps to build the islands if the City Council approves the development. The Corps is on record proposing to build about $20,000,000 worth of islands in the lower lake. We would simply ask them to use about $1,000,000 to build the small islands close to our river park.

Q. There is not enough room on the Riverfront for park, roads, and houses.

A. The plans for this development are on scaled aerial photographs and GIS base maps. You can see and scale how wide the remaining park will be after the development. With the addition of the islands, there is as much park land after as there was before the proposed development. And you are welcome to come into our office on the 4t floor of city hall to look at large scaled aerial photos showing the exising park and proposed development.

One way to understand it is that the existing bike path stays in place as is, until you get to the far north end near Spring Street, where it has to be relocated slightly to the south.

Q. You can't make the riverfront any better than it is.

A. The park is very nice as is. If the people prefer, it can be left as is is presently configured.

Where the current park could be improved:

The slope to the river is too steep. During construction of the islands a number of gradual approaches to the water should be developed, permitting people to walk down to and along the rivers edge. Also, the river and lake are not very bio diverse. There are too few wetlands and estuaries and too much mud.

One side of the existing park is formed by a railroad, factory, and some dilapidated buildings. After the home construction views from the bike trail will be imroved. The park does get excellent use during the day, but people are reluctant to walk there in the evening.

Q. Wy are you doing this?

To bring back the homeowners to the Heart of Peoria. We are trying to get a beautiful river trail drive, so that people in the Heart of Peoria can drive overlooking the lake, similar to the experience you get when driving on Grand View Drive.

Bringing people back into the central city revitalizes the City. And providing more people an opportunity to view and enjoy the lake is a great positive.

Grand View Drive provides a beautiful view of the lake and park. The plan for Grand View Drive is the same as that proposed for the area between downtown and War Memorial Drive - Lake, Park, scenic drive, and housing.

The biggest natural amenity for Peoria is the beautiful river, lake, wooded bluffs and ravines. But there are few places in the Heart of Peoria to view the lake. This plan would create a beautiful drive overlooking the river and lake for all the people to enjoy.

Q . The islands will wash away

Good engineers can certainly construct an island that will not erode. And good environmentalists can properly design and seed the islands and wetlands to promote biodiversity and improve habitat.

Q. You should not use sediment to create the islands - takes up flood plain.

Any action must be approved by the Corps of Engineers and IDNR and our own excellent Public Works and Planning staff. The tiny islands (7 acres) would be placed in the over 2,500 acre lower lake, creating a minimal impact. But if this is a concern, material from the estuary across the river could be used. This material is already above the normal water level, so moving it across the river would have no impact.

Q. No one will build nice homes next to a railroad track and public housing.

If you are correct, the development will not happen.

Q. No one wants to live in the old part of the City anymore. Too much crime and deterioration.

If all developers agree with you, then you have nothing to fear - the development will not happen.

Q. This is a pipe dream, and will never happen. The City is always changing its plans.

I hope you are incorrect. Time will tell. In any event, it will take a very long time to develop the entire Green edge. But if it is developed, Peoria will have a great River park running all the way from War Memorial Drive south to downtown, with a beautiful scenic drive connecting downtown to Grand View Drive.

Q. What happens next?

We will present the proposal to the Planning Commission at 1:30 pm on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at City Hall on the floor. You are welcome to attend and voice your concerns. It then proceeds to the City Council. If they turn it down, then we drop it and move on to other efforts. If they approve it, we would issue an RFP (Request for Proposal), and look for a quality developer. We would ask the Corps to design and construct the islands.

Please send any more questions or comments to Craighullinger@gmail.com, and I will respond. Thank you for your consideration.

Terrible weather today. We will still be open for our meeting from 3:00 to 7:00 pm today Wednesday Feb 6, but will also open the meeting again from 4:00 to 6:00 pm on Monday Feb 18, 2008 on the 4th floor of City Hall. There will also be a presentation before the Planning Commission on Wednesday Feb 20, 2008 at 1:30 pm in the Council Chambers. See you there.