Hotel project deadline pushed back, developer fined

By Maggie Vespa

September 17, 2012 Updated Sep 18, 2012 at 9:29 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- The city of Peoria is keeping its word when it comes to demanding the deadline for the downtown hotel project be met on time.

As a result, officials will be fining the developer $82,000 after a recent progress report pushed back the hotel's opening date by nearly two months. It's a setback that could cost the city big bucks from an annual economic boost.

Roughly two months is the difference between Developer Gary Matthews' previous March 1 opening deadline and this latest one, set for end of April of 2013.

That means hundreds of hotel rooms the city had hoped to have open for the March Madness tournament, will remain empty.

But Peoria city officials say while that short-term loss in economic dollars will is disappointing, they are looking long-term.

"It's a huge economic driver for our region," City Manager Patrick Urich. "We have a very diverse workforce that's being employed on the project right now with more than 23 percent of the workforce being a minority workforce."

Urich says it's easy to get excited when you see how the work inside the Pere Marquette is progressing.

"The first floor people wouldn't recognize it right now. They've completely gutted it," said Urich. "Some of the demo rooms, they have those set up now. Marriot's been in. They've taken a look inside. It's very positive."

Urich adds developer Gary Matthews had warned the public that March 1 deadline would be tight.

Our attempts to contact Matthews before deadline were unsuccessful.

The nearby Hotel Marriot is set to open sometime in 2014.

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