Grand Lady Reopens

By Denise Jackson

June 27, 2013 Updated Jun 28, 2013 at 11:24 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A big piece of downtown Peoria re-development comes back to life with Friday's re-opening of the Marriott Pere Marquette Hotel.

While the rebirth of the grand Lady marks a new era for the river city, downtown business owners are hoping it will mean increased tourism dollars.

Lori Loree at the Judges Chamber Bar and Grill in downtown Peoria is excited about the return of her neighbor across the street.

"Let's get it going, get the Marriott open too," she said.

That seems to be the sentiment among some downtown Peoria restaurant employees and business owners. Lori Loree said since the hotel Pere Marquette closed a year and a half ago, convention business slacked off. Another business employee next door agrees.

"We still had a lot of the construction workers that are working over there they still come in and had lunch after working. It's been different, but not as bad as we thought maybe it would be," said Hoops Pub and Pizza employee Heather Auer.

Peoria businessman Bruce Saurs said foot traffic in his Corner Store has not been the same, and adds he hopes the hotel's reopening brings more customers there and in for lunch or dinner at his restaurant.

"We'll hire four to six more people. We'll probably try to stay open til at least midnight every night and maybe later," he said.

Peoria city officials said the hotel renovation is also sparking interest from outside developers

"They continue to come to talk about downtown Peoria. They continue to meet with us to talk about the warehouse district, they continue to talk to us about the opportunities, " said Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich.

Opportunities city official hope will drive more businesses into the river city.