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Old Town Peoria open for business

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With each passing month, Peoria’s historical center comes a bit closer to its glory days. Old Town Peoria has a storied history dating back more than six decades to the marriage between agriculture and the railroad. Things have changed in the intervening years, and today we celebrate new beginnings in Old Town.

Right now, drawings and permits are cycling through review in anticipation of two building re-use projects that will have a terrific impact. D & R Grocery has leased the long-vacant space next to Final Clearance in the Peoria Town Center. Ray Hult purchased the buildings that formerly housed Albertson’s and the old Walmart. Ray owns and operates State Trailer Supply, which started the ball rolling in Peoria Town Center. With his one-of-a-kind addition of the gorgeous clock tower and dramatic improvements to the building’s aesthetics, the shopping center beckoned for new business. D & R Grocery relocated from elsewhere in the city, and they will operate an online grocery distribution business in the 60,000-square-foot space. Walk-in customers will be welcome.

The Baldwin House has been located on 79th Avenue, tucked between Copper Canyon School and the Peoria Avenue Walmart. Designed and operated for a very short time as an elderly assisted living facility, the buildings have been vacant for more than a decade. Fairmont Village, owned and operated locally by View Point Senior Care, is renovating the long vacant building in anticipation of re-establishing the senior-centered facility. Activating the commercial space shows current confidence by the business community in Peoria’s core downtown.

Near the Peoria Center for Performing Arts, the Edwards Hotel on Washington Street is celebrating its 100th year. Admittedly, the building is really showing its age, after decades of neglect by private owners. I’m pleased to report that the building was purchased earlier this year, and plans are inching forward for the building’s renovated re-use. Matrix Network has plans to open a theme hospitality business in the historical old hotel. I am beyond excited to watch the progress!

These three important new businesses join recent Old Town openings for Driftwood Coffee, Axiom Church and Lucidi’s Distillery. Driftwood and Axiom co-habitate the historic lumberyard at 83rd Avenue and Jefferson. Each time I stop for coffee, it melts my heart to see and hear the activity in that old building. Lucidi’s Distillery brought back to life the city’s original fire station on Washington Street, just west of 83rd Avenue. Lucidi’s has put back in use the heartbeat of one of Peoria’s earliest municipal buildings.

Keep an eye out later this year along Washington Street in Old Town. Some of our longest continually operating businesses will be sporting a new look. Visitors to Old Town will immediately recognize that Old Town is indeed open for business.