East Peoria OKs Riverfront Apartments Project

Aug 4, 2020

Construction of a $13 million apartment complex along the Illinois River in East Peoria is scheduled to begin in the near future.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the East Peoria City Council unanimously approved a development agreement with the Teekona Group for the “Riverview Lofts” midrise apartment complex on Conference Center Drive next to the former Granite City location. 

“We made a concerted effort about a year and a half ago on the previous council to focus on residential development that would complement what we’ve done with the rest of the downtown area. That’s what you’re seeing play out,” said Mayor John Kahl.

The development will feature about 142 market-rate units, as well as a parking facility and other amenities. The project is expected to be completed by October 2022.

“I’m glad to finally get something going there. We’ve talked about a couple things over the years and it’s a property that when we first began developing it, we looked at it as a gold mine,” said Commissioner Dan Decker. “It’s nice to get something on that property because it will finally then be paying the community back beyond the tax rolls.”

East Peoria is not spending any of its own money on the project. Instead, the city will provide the land, and give the developer a performance-based incentive by using funds generated through the West Washington Street TIF (tax increment financing) district.

“Our city is in hock up to our ears with Bass Pro (Shops) and the Levee District,” said Commissioner Michael Sutherland. “I’ve never been a fan of the city being a real estate company. But I do like this deal. We don’t have to finance anything; none of our money is in it.”

Dollar General location

In another matter, several residents from the Brentwood neighborhood spoke in opposition to a new Dollar General store being built near the front of the subdivision on Springfield Road between Harris Road and Briarbrook Drive.

Kahl said the land is zoned commercial and did not require a special use permit for the store to be built. Kahl said the store is being built on one of three open parcels at the location, with the other two both zoned for multi-family residential.

“I don’t think there’s a person sitting up here that thinks that’s an ideal location,” he said. “My point is the city has no legal authority to tell Dollar General it can’t be in that location, or the private property owner, since it’s zoned accordingly.”

Residents said they are worried about the store affecting the neighborhood setting, impacting traffic and posing a risk to school children. Kahl said Planning and Development Director Ty Livingston has reached out to the company to share the citizens’ concerns in an effort to mitigate the situation.

“What we see from other developments that they (Dollar General) have, it’s a low consistent amount of traffic,” said Livingston. “(It’s) a good point with the schools, that’s certainly a peak time you’re going to have traffic coming in and out of that subdivision. That’s going to have to be something that we monitor.”

One resident raised a concern about the store potentially getting a liquor license, but city staff said the company has not sought a license and neither of East Peoria’s two other Dollar General stores has one.  

“Although it’s not what you want to hear, I was extremely honest when I learned about it and I’m extremely honest here as you face us and I tell you there is nothing we could legally do to stop it,” said Kahl.

Cannabis dispensary rejected

The council also voted to deny a petition from Roy Sorce requesting a special use permit for a cannabis dispensary at 1501 N. Main Street. The decision followed the zoning board's recommendation that cited concerns over parking, traffic and a potential proliferation of marijuana-related businesses along the corridor. 

Sorce told the council he is seeking to expand his company, Sorce Enterprises, into new markets and wants to use proceeds from a cannabis business to help reduce the Asian carp population by processing the fish locally. He said he has not yet been awarded a craft or dispensary license by the state.

“We are here proactively, setting the stage for growth in our hometown,” said Sorce. “We hope to be the face of small business that can adapt and change.”

Commissioners said they would be open to approving a cannabis business if Sorce could find a more suitable location.

“I’m not opposed to considering another dispensary; we have it in our city code to do so,” said Decker, adding he also fully supports efforts to harvest Asian Carp. “But I am not going to go against our ZBA. So if there’s something in the future that does not go against our zoning board, I would support that.”

Other business

In other action, the council: issued a moratorium on permitting auto-related businesses such as repair shops, gas stations and car washes in the Levee District; authorized the sale of 14 police department vehicles that are no longer in use; approved a change order for the sewer upgrade project; and approved converting a parcel of city-owned land along Highview Road to public right-of-way.

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