Officials Make The Case For More Warehouse District Parking

Mar 2, 2020

Is there another parking deck in Peoria’s future - despite the fact that the city’s existing four Downtown parking decks are all under-utilized?  

There’s not enough parking in the city’s Warehouse District, said Jon Walker, the owner of Warehouse District buildings that house Zion Coffee and the Rambler gift shop.

“We know there’s plenty of parking in Downtown Peoria but it’s not always in the right spot. There’s scattered public parking elsewhere in the city—just not in the Warehouse District,” said Walker, who resides in the District with wife Angie. 

Michael Freilinger, president/CEO of the Downtown Development Corp., said that residential developments in the Warehouse District are dictating the need for a parking facility. 

The announcement that the seven-story Builders Warehouse, 812 SW Washington St., was sold to be converted to apartments was made last year means some 100 new apartments will be added to several hundred already occupied in the Warehouse District, said Freilinger. More are expected to follow. 

“Two buildings are already sold and two others are under contract. That means as many as 600 people could soon be living on one city block Downtown,” he said, referring to the 800 block of Washington Street. "For that to happen, however, the city needs to come through with additional parking," said Freilinger. “That area was originally zoned for warehouses. A typical six or seven-story building might have had three employees. Now we’re talking about converting that same building into a residential complex." 

First District Peoria City Councilwoman Denise Moore told the Downtown Advisory Commission earlier this month that the city was seeking state funds for a parking deck in the Warehouse District—along with asking the state for a number of other items including funds to develop the city’s riverfront. 

Freilinger estimates the cost for construction of the parking deck at between $9 million and $10 million. At the same Downtown Advisory Commission meeting, Phil Lockwood, board chairman of the Peoria Innovation Alliance, suggested considering alternatives to another deck such as shuttles involving smart mobility. 

Commission chairman Mark Misselhorn, a Peoria architect, said that parking decks are now being built that can be converted later from parking cars to other uses such as office or retail. 

In 2018, the Peoria City Council approved a development plan for the Warehouse District, anticipating the conversion of the Builders Warehouse building, to provide a surface lot with 60 spaces. 

One surface lot won’t be enough, said Freilinger. 

“I would have liked a parking structure done a few years ago. Now I think we’re at a point where the city recognizes we need to do this,” he said.

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