Mayor Ardis suggests new approach for Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

By Joe Bennett

Mayor Ardis suggests new approach for Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

December 4, 2012 Updated Dec 4, 2012 at 6:02 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- President of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Rob Parks says there are many changes to keep up with downtown, and she says it won't stop with the completion of the Courtyard Marriott.

"We have two big transitions that I think are coming in the next five or ten years," Parks said. "And one of them is what happens with Caterpillar's headquarters and how they evolve it in to a campus and the impact that has on downtown and the spin-off that will come from that and the warehouse."

Some believe the warehouse district is an area that should have been developed more and discussed less at this point.

Downtown business leaders believe condos, retail and restaurants are needed to bring the entire downtown together.

"We've seen a lot of nice restaurants come and go. There just wasn't enough synergy there to get that to happen," said Peoria Civic Center General Manager Jim Wetherington. "I think the Marriott expansion is going to be pinnacle in setting a standard. They're going to have some retail space there as well. That's really going to help to start the turn."

Phil Caplis is a co-owner of Two25 on Adams Street.

He says he agrees with the mayor that a Peoria Chamber of Commerce should be taking care of business within the city, concentrating less on neighboring communities.

"There needs to be the specialty shops, a congregation of shops where people will come and spend their dollars," Caplis said.

Parks says she has not heard from Ardis directly but looks forward to speaking with him about the idea.

She says with all of the changes and growth the river front has seen in just the last year, there is plenty of work in preparing for the future along the riverfront.

"One encourages the next, which encourages the next," Parks said. "I just think there is lots and lots of potential, and I think we're going to see things change."

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