East Peoria's riverfront is now reeling in millions of dollars in revenue each year. Just this week, two new restaurants will open and more are under construction.
The implosion of Cilco's Wallace Station in 1995 meant an explosion in the economy for East Peoria and developer Gary Matthews. He said, "I tell you ten years ago, I even had my doubts."
Not anymore, as Logan's Roadhouse marks 16 restaurants now on the East side of the riverfront. Logan Vice President Paul Pendleton said, "We generally look for big box players, Target, Lowes, Home Depot combined with certain demographics and this is it. We're excited about it."
Matthews has had a hand in about $150 million in East Peoria development.
He says location and accessibility off Interstate 74 are keys, but a kind East Peoria City Council is a bigger help.
"A city that's very, very easy to work with when you have problems. The city of East Peoria has always been helpful and had a vision," said Matthews.
There are also plans for East Peoria to join the riverfront residential market. An outside developer wants to build town homes on the other side of 74.
The Embassy Suites and Conference Center will open in January. There are also plans for another hotel or two, TGI Fridays, Pets Mart and probably more office buildings.
Joy French is a Pekin resident eating in East Peoria and said, "People like to go out to eat and girls like to shop and we just need to be able to save miles on our vehicles."
That kind of thinking has 65 acres of East Peoria property bringing in 200 million dollars in sales a year.
Logan's Roadhouse opened today with neighbor Granite City Food and Brewery opening tomorrow.