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Peoria residents give input on future development of The Riverfront

Business owners, city officials, and everyday citizens gathered here at the Gateway building to discuss their ideas for the Riverfront with a hands on exercise.

Back in 1999 a city owned platform has three restaurants and a gift shop which also created sheltered parking. But closures and infrastructure issues led to its demolition in 2017.

Now the city is looking for a fresh start.

“What a dramatic difference it made when the elevated deck came down and all of the sudden,’ Wow I can see the river, I can see the bridge, I can see this, isn’t this exciting’!” said Keven Graham, the senior landscape architect for Terra Engineering.

The group responsible for the final design, Terra Engineering, held a public meeting where participants played a monopoly-like game. They took a blank city lay out and created their own ideal riverfront with anything from permanent event spaces to playgrounds.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I can remember when this area, there was nothing down here and I remember when there was a bunch of abandoned factories and they’ve done a lot of great things at the Riverfront and you know now that we’ve got this green space it’s good the community is engaging in figuring out what we should do with it.” said life long resident Anthony Walraven.

Downtown businesses said what goes on at the Riverfront impacts their restaurants, bars, and hotels. That’s why they want to see something that brings outsiders to the area.

“All of that really helps the downtown Peoria area so when we’re looking at a space that needs a complete new design like we are right now. I want something that works together as a whole from bridge to bridge.” said Patrick Caplis from Two25 restaurant downtown.

The landscape architect said while they will add their own creative insight from experiences in other river cities, this project is a product of the people.

“We are not as designers just telling the public here’s what it is. This Riverfront is the people of Peoria’s and it’s their ideas. We’re the tools the designers to help execute that.” said Graham

The final plans for the Riverfront are expected to be presented to the city at the end of this year

Kaitlin Pearson

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