Changing the face of downtown Peoria

By Joe Bennett

December 3, 2012 Updated Dec 3, 2012 at 8:39 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Renovations of the Hotel Pere Marquette are well under way, and new construction of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel is just around the corner.

"I think everybody is going to be surprised," said Hotel Developer Gary Matthews. "Because it will look like a brand new hotel the minute you walk in."

Matthews says a couple of hurdles have currently put construction a month or two behind schedule, but that only pushes opening day back a couple of weeks.

Matthews hopes the Courtyard Marriott will be completed by the end of April.

He says demolition along Main Street will continue as soon as Big Al's has vacated from its current location.

According to Al Zuccarini, that could be as soon as the end of the year.

Big Al is building bigger with the hope of bringing a more new-age burlesque to downtown, inviting broader entertainment to the venue, such as comedians and musical acts for dinner shows.

"It doesn't have to be adult entertainment 24/7," said Zuccarini. "And hopefully with the Civic Center, we can do that."

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says the Civic Center and an overhaul on re-branding the city's image will be key to bringing new attractions to Peoria.

"I think we're probably going to see a lot of renewed interest in having a Peoria-specific chamber of commerce that really is focused totally on Peoria and the things we have here in Peoria," according to Ardis.

Another plan down the road is the redevelopment of Caterpillar headquarters.

Ardis says with all of the changes, we can expect to see an entirely new downtown within the next couple years.

That's something Gary Matthews says will have been worth the wait.

"I believe it's not only going to be worth it," Matthews said. "I believe that the city will be very proud of what has finally come about."

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.