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How the new owners of the Twin Towers Mall plan to transform it into a 'hub of activity' for downtown Peoria

The south side of the Twin Towers Mall on Fulton Street in downtown Peoria.
Tim Shelley
The south side of the Twin Towers Mall on Fulton Street in downtown Peoria.

Downtown Peoria's Twin Towers Mall is under new ownership.

JPG Real Estate donated the four-story, nearly 40,000-square-foot building to the nonprofit organization Illinois Business Financial Services (IBSE).

IBFS is currently based on the third floor of the building. Erik Reader is the president and CEO of the group that works with businesses acquiring real estate or equipment through Small Business Administration 504 loans.

"Oftentimes, that isn't the most exciting, glamorous thing to announce to the general public, so taking on this space here with the Twin Towers Mall is kind of an exciting thing for us, because it's more public and more visible," Reader said.

Reader's tenure with IBFS began in March. He said he's looking for ways to evolve the organization beyond its traditional outreach.

"There's a lot of people that just need some startup space or less of a cost-intensive space to get their business up and running," he said.

The Twin Towers Mall is a compelling space for that kind of project with a location smack dab in the center of downtown's business district, and with a unique mix of existing businesses already established.

"The whole goal for the future of the space is to continue to make it what it has been, which is a great place for locally owned small business, which I think is unique to Peoria," Reader said. "And then to help provide some of those wraparound services, working with our friends out in the Peoria ecosystem of startups and small business, entrepreneurial assistance."

He thinks a refresh of the site's image could lead to a turnaround success story similar to those of Junction City and Keller Station.

"I can't stop looking at the opportunity and potential of it. So we're excited, and have already started talking to some of the business owners that are down there to see what future plans they have, if they're interested in expanding or different things that they want to do," Reader said. "And some of it is just having some of that freedom and flexibility to do new things, which I think excites people."

He said IBFS doesn't want to disturb the tenants already calling the Twin Towers Mall home. Reader said the next steps are fundraising, applying for grants, and working with a marketing firm to identify the image and identity of the Twin Towers Mall a little. He said an architectural firm will also take a look at the space for new possibilities.

"If folks have a business idea, or if they're looking for a space, we hope to be able to welcome them with open arms and provide some services for them, as well," he said.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.