By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia
About 100 investors, real estate developers and others descended on the city March 29 for the second annual Invest Peoria 2017, an attendance increase of about 20 percent from the inaugural event.
Officials showcased some of the cities most promising commercial and industrial properties in hopes of sewing the seeds of future economic development.
“We had a great response from developers and investors,” said Economic Development Director Scott Whyte.
The event featured a handful of premiere development sites, certain city-controlled properties, redevelopment opportunities and other sites.
The premiere sites, which the city showcased as their most desirable properties, included the Vistancia commercial core, a parcel in the P83 Entertainment District and Peoria Place, a large lot near the southeast corner of Cotton Crossing and Grand Avenue.
Mr. Whyte said these properties were chosen as premiere properties because they are in single ownership by a motivated land owner and are significantly large to have a meaningful economic development impact.
“These properties are located in close proximity to major transportation corridors and have good visibility and access,” he said.
The population in the northern part of Peoria has grown about 50 percent in the last decade so it’s no surprise the economic development team featured Vistancia’s more than 300-acre, shovel-ready commercial core as a premiere site that developers and investors should consider. Proposed plans include commercial, mixed-use and a multi-sport indoor tournament facility.
Peoria is about 50 percent to build-out, while about 93 percent of the city’s residents of working age commute out of the city to work, according to a study by Wadley-Donovan-Gutshaw Consulting.
Mayor Cathy Carlat said one of her goals for the city is to bring high quality employers to the city to produce good jobs, allowing for residents to live, work and play in Peoria.
One way to accomplish this was through the creation of Invest Peoria last year.
In March 2016, the Economic Development Services Department hosted the first investment forum in Peoria to showcase available sites for new commercial, office and industrial development to increase the city’s inventory of suitable space to attract targeted industries. More than 80 investors and developers attended.
The investment forum resulted in an agreement between the city and Peoria-based Plaza Del Rio Management Corp to serve as the master developer for an office/business park project, located on 14 acres of city-owned land at the southwest corner of Loop 101 and Peoria Avenue. The proposed project is to build class A-/B+ office buildings with possible retail elements.