New Urban News

The New Urban News is a professional newsletter for planners, developers, architects, builders, public officials and others who are interested in the creation of human-scale communities.

Recession not playing in Peoria

by Mark Thomton

The $135 million Block development.

The Pere Marquette hotel renovation will yield a new Marriott hotel.

With a flurry of development proposals on the table and millions of private and public dollars already pledged, developers and local officials hope to prove that economic recessions don't play in Peoria.

Not many communities are in the position to make grand plans today, but Peoria has gone against the grain with $240 million of development proposals that will dramatically change the look of the downtown area. The momentum is from a convergence of civic, corporate and private investment interest as Peoria-based Caterpillar, a recent voter-approved sales tax increase and numerous private investment firms have already secured a significant portion of the capital required for the projects.

The projects---a seven-acre museum campus and a new luxury hotel attached to the recently renovated convention center---are located only blocks from one another and are scheduled to be constructed concurrently.

"This is a unique story," says Jim Richerson, president and CEO of the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences. "We have a Fortune 50 company partnering with six local cultural institutions to make this happen. Two years down the road, it will be a radically different Peoria."

The museum campus has been dubbed
The Block. It will be developed on a defunct 7-acre property that was once a Sears warehouse location. The Block will include the Peoria Riverfront Museum and The Caterpillar Experience, a $41 million interactive museum completely funded by Caterpillar.

Read the rest of the story at:


Enterprise Zone

          The Enterprise Zone is an important economic development tool.  The Peoria Enterprise Zone provides a number of incentives.  Some types of development can receive property tax abatement, and sales tax for building material can be waived.

Q.        Are all properties in the Enterprise Zone eligible for property tax abatement?

A.        No.  Only non-residential properties falling within the following North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes are eligible for property tax abatement:


Manufacturing 311 Food and Kindred Products 313 Textile Mill Products 315 Apparel and Other Textile Products 321 Lumber and Wood Products 337 Furniture and Fixtures 322 Paper and Allied Products 323 Printing and Publishing 325 Chemicals and Allied Products 324 Petroleum and Coal Products 326 Rubber and Miscellaneous Plastics

Products 316 Leather and Leather Products 327 Stone, Clay and Glass Products 331 Primary Metal Industries 332 Fabricated Metal products 333 Machinery, Except Electrical 335 Electric and Electronic Equipment 336 Transportation Equipment 334 Instruments and Related Products 339 Miscellaneous Manufacturing Industries

Transportation and Public Utilities  484 Trucking and Warehousing 483 Water Transportation 481 Transportation by Air 492 Communication

Wholesale Trade 421 Wholesale Trade--Durable Goods 422 Wholesale Trade--Nondurable Goods


Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate 521 Banking 522 Credit Agencies Other Than Banks 523 Security, Commodity Brokers and Services 524 Insurance Carriers 524 Insurance Agents, Brokers & Services Real Estate 525 Combined Real Estate, Insurance, Etc. 551 Holding and Other Investment Offices 

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 54

Healthcare and Social Assistance 62 (see note below for exception)

Services 721 Hotels and Other Lodging Places 541 Business Services

Social Services 62431 Job Training and Vocational Rehabilitation Services 62441 Child Day Care Services

Engineering, Accounting, Research, Management and Related Services 541 Engineering, Architectural and Surveying Services 54172 Research, Development and Testing Services

Mixed use development (no NAICS Code) **

Note: #62 only eligible within the boundaries of Renaissance Park. For more information on the boundaries of Renaissance Park call the Department of Economic Development at (309) 494-8640


Call the Department of Economic Development at (309) 494-8640 for information on the Enterprise Zone. 

More info on the link Below:
Susan Schlupp
Economic Development Department
419 Fulton Street, Suite 403
Peoria, IL  61602
(309) 494-8644


Philip José Farmer 1918-2009

Peoria Author Philip Jose' Farmer was a prolific author and a supporter of the libraries of Peoria. His many honors include a World Fantasy Life Achievement Award and three Hugos.  

More about him on the links below: 




Take a look at  MEMWAS, a great new business developed at Bradley University.

Peoria Economic Development
2008 Accomplishments

Stimulated economy through the retention / creation of 525 jobs and $4,354,253 in private investment from existing/new businesses through Enterprise Zone.

Completed the Hospitality Improvement Zone (HIZ) for a new Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) and a Business Development District (BDD) to assist in the improvement of downtown, helping finance the 102 Million Dollar Pere Marquette Marriott Hotel.

Completed concept plans for River Trail Drive, received unanimous approval from the Heart of Peoria Commission, the Planning Commission, and the City Council. Seeking developers now.

Completed the Green Edge Plan and the Cascade Plan calling for redevelopment and improvement of the Riverfront north of downtown.

Continued to lead the redevelopment of Renaissance Park

Issued Private Activities Bonds to the First Time Homebuyer’s Program to allow 186 families to purchase of homes totaling more than $15.5 million.

Allocated $92,000 in public funds through the Façade Improvement Program to leverage $260,000 in private investment for the revitalization of the West Main Street, Sheridan and Prospect Form Districts.

Completed three Enterprise Expansion Applications to assist existing businesses.

Partnered with local employers, realtors, and lenders to create a homebuyer’s incentive program for inner city revitalization.

Completed two redevelopment agreements within the City’s 9 Tax Increment Financing Districts for investment totaling $9.5 million.

11th Annual Illinois Leadership Conference

Community Partnerships That Really Work!

June 9 Half-day Tour & June 10 Conference

Hawthorn Suites in Champaign, Illinois

To register, go to:



The City has Ten Tax Increment Financing Districts.  These district have created substantial numbers of jobs and additional tax base for the older parts of the City.

The Campustown TIF ends this year, and the taxes will be paid to the local governments.

More info on our TIF's on this address:

Unemployment in Peoria

The national recession was late to hit Peoria, but unemployment spiked up to 9.1 % in metro Peoria in Feb 09.  It declined slightly in March to 8.9 %.

This means we have to work harder, faster, and smarter in economic development to help the private sector expand to put our people back to work.


Downtown Aurora Tours

Place HolderPlace Holder

Living Downtown Tour

Sunday, June 14, 2009

from 1 pm to 4 pm

 Advance tickets purchased online are $10;

tickets purchased at the door are $15.

Ticket are available online at: www.historichometours.com

 The tour starts at 74 S. La Salle Street in downtown Aurora, IL.


We think you'll be intrigued and delighted by the eleven homes

open for the Living Downtown tour.

 Welcome to the past, the present,

and the future of American cities. Welcome home.

View Photo Slide Show


Form Based Code for Peoria

The current Land Development Code for the City of Peoria (which is based on form based coding) is located here:


Money Smart Week

The 2009 Money Smart Week (MSW) will be April 18-25.  MSW is a series of free classes and activities designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances.  You can learn everything from teaching your children how to save to preparing for a financially sound retirement. 

While classes are free, some do require registration.  Please visit the online calendars at www.moneysmartweek.org/illinois to receive more information and class schedules.  In addition, hard copies of the calendars are available at the City Managers office and Planning and Growth Management; and where also included in last week's paychecks. 


Live Work Space

Live Work Space is a concept that is consistent with both new urbanism and sustainable "green" development. More people are working at home at least part of the week.  Condo and apartment developers around the country are beginning to promote live-work units as part of their mix of offerings.

The concept is consistent with historic city patterns, where small business owners operated their business on one floor and lived above the store.  Artists love the the artist's loft, where they both live and create, and use their space as a studio.

Work at-home work spaces target professionals and entrepreneurs. My wife, Beth Ruyle, is a Financial Advisor to municipalities, working for Ehlers-Inc, with offices in Lisle, Illinois near Chicago.  But she typically spends only one day a week there, working out of our home office overlooking downtown Peoria and Giant Oak Park. She actually drives less and spends less time in the car now, with one trip a week from Peoria to Lisle, then she did when we lived in the Chicago area, with a 3 hour round trip every day to and from work.

Pat Sullivan has developed some great live work space in the Kellehers Block. People can both live and work from their unit, and meet in the pubs and restaurants downstairs.

This type of development is consistent with both new urbanism and green sustainable development.  It eliminates travel time from home to work, with resultant savings in energy, time, air pollution, and public cost for maintaining roads.

Devonshire Inc proposes to build a mixed use building on Main Street at the site of the old Walgreens Store. This building will be new urban, with retail on the first floor facing Main Street, and apartments above.  The units above the first floor will be live work space, with people living in the units and if they wish, operating small businesses as permitted by the building owner covenants and city codes.

Read more about it below:


Congratulations - Build the Block

Congratulations to the voters of the County of Peoria who voted to support Build the Block.  It is very tough to support a tax increase, even when it is small.  But the great new Museum and Cat Visitors Center overlooking the Riverfront will greatly improve our region as a World Class destination.


Build The Block

I will be voting for the referendum to help Build the Block.  In my judgement, this is an important step for the Peoria region.   The Museum and the Caterpillar Visitor Center would become a premier destination. It would function much like the very successful Harley Davidson Center in Milwaukee, or the John Deere Center in the Quad Cities.

It is always tough to propose a slight sales tax increase in difficult economic times. But the money gets put right back into our ecnonomy. The sales tax is County wide, and is paid by everyone who makes purchases in our County.

Planning Commissioners Journal

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