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Local News

$6 million EastSide Centre expansion kicks off later this year

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Tim Shelley
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WCBU
At his annual State of the City Address, East Peoria Mayor John Kahl announced a $6 million expansion of EastSide Centre on the site of the former SplashDown water park.

When East Peoria completed construction of the EastSide Centre in 1996, the multisports complex was a few steps ahead of its time. But now the times are catching up to the concept, the city's mayor said Friday.

"You have a sports complex in Bettendorf, one preparing to go up in Springfield, one in Rantoul. We can't sit around and watch our facility age," said East Peoria Mayor John Kahl.

"The staff up there does an absolutely incredible job. And when you look at the amount of events that they bring in, it's to the staff and the condition of that facility and how they maintain it with what they have," Kahl continued. "But we, really, this council, recognizes the need to upgrade that facility."

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Tim Shelley
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WCBU
East Peoria Mayor John Kahl delivers his 2022 State of the City Address at the Par-A-Dice Hotel.

The EastSide Centre currently consists of 10 grass baseball/softball fields, four grass soccer fields, three indoor basketball courts, a 20,000-square-foot gym, and other amenities.

Kahl said there are plans to add four multi-use courts on the land where the SplashDown water park once stood. It also includes renovations to restrooms, locker rooms, and the concessions area. Athletico Physical Therapy also is planning an expanded presence in the updated EastSide Centre, Kahl said.

"When you look at how important kids' athletics are to parents, that's one thing that did not slow down during the pandemic," Kahl said in an interview after his address on Friday. "And EastSide was ahead of his time back in the day. So, we feel it's necessary to reinvest in that. With the amount of hotels and restaurants and shops that we have, it's important to continue driving the economy."

Kahl said the $6 million dollar project begins later this year, while the existing gym floor will be replaced in August as part of a $100,00 capital project.

Public safety upgrades underway

Meanwhile, the city of East Peoria is launching a five-year plan to build out a new police station.

Kahl said the current station on West Washington doesn't meet the department's current needs.

"They have stuff crammed in trailers. We have stuff in back buildings," he said. "You know, our department has 49 sworn officers, and they're working out of a very tight knit place. They have been for years."

Kahl said a 30,000-square-foot building is planned for the new police station. Seven sites around East Peoria are being considered, including the site of the current station, the mayor said.

The total project is estimated to cost between $17 to $22 million. The next major expenditure — architectural and engineering fees — will run between $1.2 and $1.7 million.

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Tim Shelley
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WCBU
The new fire station planned along Centennial Road in East Peoria, near Illinois Central College and Quail Meadows Golf Course.

Mayor Kahl also said the city expects to break ground on a new fire station at Illinois Central College, adjacent to Quail Meadows Golf Course, by this fall.

Construction costs have increased to $2.6 million since $1.9 million in state money was approved for the project. Kahl said four firefighters will be stationed along Centennial Drive.

Luxury apartments break ground later this year

The multi-use residential building planned for the lot adjacent to the East Peoria Civic Complex in the Levee District now has a name.

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Rendering by Flaherty and Collins
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The $55 million mixed-use complex in East Peoria's Levee District will be named "501 Blutowne." It's a reference to the city's origins.

The developers of the $55 million, four-story complex are dubbing the building " 501 Blutowne," harkending back to the city's original name.

In addition to 233 luxury apartments, 501 Blutowne will feature 10,000 square feet of commercials space, a pool, and amenities for pets.

Kahl said the pandemic delayed the start of the project, first announced in 2020, adding an extension of TIF benefits is allowing the project to move forward.

Kahl anticipates, if all goes to plan, the mixed-use development will be completed in two years.

On the other side of the Civic Complex, work is continuing on the East Peoria Community Foundation's Levee Park. Construction of the second phase is expected to kick off next week. About $1.5 million in private donations is sought for the third and final phases that includes a splash pad and a performance stage.

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