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Mayor Kahl: Blutowne construction on target as a ‘first step’ toward future East Peoria development

Construction on the mixed-use Blutowne development in East Peoria's Levee District is on target to begin leasing space next spring.
Joe Deacon
Construction on the mixed-use Blutowne development in East Peoria's Levee District is on schedule with leasing space expected next spring.

East Peoria Mayor John Kahl says the opening of the mixed-use Blutowne complex next to city hall is on target, and he hopes it will usher in more development in the vicinity.

“I've always told people, from my perspective, if you go back two decades ago with the vision down there, it included not just retail commercial,” said Kahl. “It was all supposed to be mixed-use with residential and then some type of entertainment components. So, this is just the first leg in what we hope to see come to fruition down there.”

The $65 million development from Flaherty & Collins will feature 219 upscale residential units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space. Kahl said lead project developer Julie Collier has credited favorable weather conditions for keeping construction on schedule.

“The general contractor on site gives the city weekly updates on the construction side of it, and the project's actually right on time,” said Kahl. “She's anticipating some of the apartments will be done to the point where they can lease them out and move folks in the beginning of next year; I would say no later than like April 1, March-April timeframe.”

The city will not have direct input regarding potential business tenants, said Kahl, but has made its preferences known.

“What we did do early on was give the developer kind of an idea of what we would like to see, and that is something that's unique,” he said. “Many people have expressed their criticism, if you will, of a lot of chain restaurants and businesses and things of that sort.

“So since this is a unique project, we made it pretty clear to the developer — dating back five years ago — what we'd like to see in that space, and based on all indications, she's honoring that.”

Kahl said the developers aren’t ready yet to disclose any specific commercial tenants.

“But they've had two businesses that have already expressed interest, and I assume that's already in motion, based on what she told me,” he said. “But what's interesting about this particular project is that Flaherty & Collins has done this in multiple states.

“This is nothing new for them; that's part of the reason why we selected them five years ago. That being said, the demand and the interest that they've had, both in the residential apartments as well as commercial spaces, is somewhat unprecedented, which is a good sign.”

Kahl said he expects the Blutowne project will have a huge economic impact on the Levee District, and envisions future developments on some vacant city-owned property south of the CEFCU branch on Richland Street, west of Costco.

“We have plans for eventually another phase that we would like to see go down Center Street. We haven't really announced what that would look like yet,” he said. “Hopefully, sometime later this year, beginning of next year, we'll kind of share some ideas that we have.”

Kahl said they have heard some concerns about the unsightliness of the Blutowne parking deck that's currently visible during construction.

“They're like, ‘Wow, I can't believe the city's allowing that to go in that space.’ What people don't understand is that parking garage will be surrounded by the residential side of things, which is four stories,” he said. “So you’ll only see a small sliver of the parking garage entrance, and to see that you'd have to be sitting in the parking lot outside of the civic plaza.”

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.