$670,000 wayfinding project will bring 70 new signs to downtown Peoria
A project started by an application for state funding in 2017 is set to bring around 70 new “wayfinding” signs to downtown Peoria.
At a news conference Tuesday, Downtown Development Corporation President Michael Freilinger announced the creation of two prototype signs. Manufactured by Ace Sign Company, the DDC invested $20,000 into the prototypes.
The signs are based on a Master Wayfinding Signage plan created by the Corbin Design Group from Traverse City, Michigan. The plan includes proposed design drawings and suggested locations.
Freilinger said wayfinding serves a different purpose than a typical street sign.
“That helps with navigation, but it's not really wayfinding,” he said. “It tells you where you're at at that specific point in time. What wayfinding does is guide you throughout the city to destinations that you want to go to.”
For example, a prototype sign at Main and Water streets includes arrows pointing to museums, parks and the RiverPlex. The sign is on a post that Freilinger said is painted with a UV-resistant coating, intended to last for years. It also features the logo for the City of Peoria. Additionally, the signage is separated into modules, meaning the directional labels can be replaced or removed if needed.
“You want the signs to be flexible enough, in terms of changing them up, that it's not cost prohibitive to do it,” said Freilinger. “If it's relatively inexpensive, it's more likely that they're going to be kept up-to-date and serve the purpose that they were intended for.”
At the bottom of the sign is a blue label reading “Riverfront.” This is the district marker that every sign will have. Freilinger said the downtown area is divided into five districts: Medical, Central Business, Near North, Riverfront and Warehouse. The districts also will have a distinct color attached to the sign. You can find where the DDC draws the boundaries of those districts here.
In total, the city has budgeted $670,000 to create and install the full suite of around 70 signs. The city originally applied for state funding for the project in 2017 through the Tri-County Planning Commission.
“That portion, that was the state funding,” said City Manager Patrick Urich. “Plus whatever the city had to cover to get to the full 670 (thousand).”
Community business leaders and tourism officials are excited about the potential for the wayfinding project to boost business discovery and walkability.
“When people have those positive experiences, you speak highly of that destination when you go back home,” said Discover Peoria President J.D. Dalfonso. “So that statistically has shown to increase visitor traffic, which in turn, increases tax dollars spent in those communities.”
Michael Maloof is a DDC board member and president of Jim Maloof Realtors.He said there could be QR codes on some of the signs or pedestrian kiosks to lead visitors to an online business directory. However, that idea is in early stages and there’s no plan yet for who would maintain the directory or how it would be monetized.
“This challenge is going to be, you have touched on the key component, if you're going to have QR codes, keeping them current, keeping them updated, that's a cost,” Maloof said. “We haven't solved that problem yet.”
Freilinger said there are potential partners to manage a QR resource of business directory, like Discover Peoria or the Peoria Riverfront Association, but nothing is set in stone.
Peoria Public Works installed the first two prototype signs, but the rest of the project will go out for bid for construction next month. Peoria Mayor Rita Ali and other officials said they expect the project to be finished by late 2023 to early 2024.