After 103 years, Peoria residents could soon be saying goodbye to the Edwards Hotel, as the city is looking to demolish it later this year.
Peoria’s first hotel has been under a demolition order on and off since 2016. Ongoing city inspections over the last five years have assessed the condition of the property and found continued deterioration, blight, insect damage, structural failure, trespass and collection of debris.
The most recent inspection in December resulted in 30 international property maintenance code violations.
The owner was notified and was given until Feb. 18 to either obtain a permit to demolish the structure or to redevelop it. The city did not receive a permit request for either course of action, according to Chris Hallett, director of neighborhood and human services for the city of Peoria.
“The No. 1 issue has been its detriment to the life and safety of those around it,” Hallett said.
“And then, public nuisance attractions so things can happen inside of that, whether it be homelessness or other criminal activity is constantly coming into breach. It’s just a dangerous building, to be quite honest, that has been sitting there and continues to get more and more dangerous as time goes on.”
The hotel, which was built in 1918, has not had any service, electricity or water since 2010, according to Hallett.
Because the Feb. 18 deadline has passed, the city will begin its plans to move forward with the potential demolition of the site.
While some may be concerned with the building’s long-standing reputation in Peoria, Hallett assures residents that the building is not historically significant, as it’s not certified or registered with the National Register of Historic Places.
“During this five-year process, all five owners have had opportunities to submit for historic consideration. So, are there ramifications to that? Depending on people’s views of the building and its history, but again, there is no historic significance as deemed by a national register,” he said.
Hallett said the safety of the community is what’s most important, and the building is a threat to that.
“There’s all kinds of safety issues,” he said, listing the structural integrity of the building, the homeless starting fires and local students being targeted on their walk home from school.
“But the biggest one is that nuisance attraction that attracts people to it to do kind of nefarious intriguing things inside of a building that’s old and creaky. It is secured at any given moment that that fencing is breached consistently, and we don’t know what’s going on once it is.”
So, what’s next for the 103-year-old Edwards Hotel? According to Jennifer Stein, communication director for the city of Peoria, there have been discussions about old pieces of the building being repurposed or incorporated into a historic or Old Town tribute.
—Staff writer Lauren Serrato can be reached at email@example.com