Sunnyland Plaza gets a brighter look

By Joe Bennett

April 15, 2012 Updated Apr 15, 2012 at 10:38 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill -- Residents of the Sunnyland community in Washington will soon have a few new places to shop, eat, work and relax with a more modern look.

For more than five years, visitors of the city of Washington were welcomed by the run-down landmark that is Sunnyland Plaza.

Mayor Garry Manier says residents were starting to wonder.

"I had many people saying, are you going to tear it down?" the mayor telsl us. "When does it come to a point where you're going to tear it down?"

"It's a little functionally obsolete for today's times," says developer Raymond Poe.

Poe stepped in with plans to refurbish Sunnyland Plaza, calling it a nicely positioned place for renovation.

"There really isn't anything that it competes with within three miles of every direction," Poe says. "There are no jewelry stores, there are no shoe stores, only ten percent of the grocery needs are being satisfied."

Poe expects mostly smaller shops will fill the new plaza with one major retailer or restaurant by a year from now.

So far, construction is right on schedule

By the end of May, the fenced in area at the middle of the plaza will be fully demolished and turned into a parking lot.

By the end of June, the entire plaza will have a finished exterior.

Alderman Gene Schneider says he is looking forward to the one-stop shopping complex, especially being within close proximity to residents in the neighborhood.

"People don't want to drive," says Schneider. "They want to walk somewhere. It's just a win win situation for all the families in this area."

It's also a win for the city, according to Mayor Manier, since Poe is paying the entire tab at no cost to the tax payers.

"If we can get people to cross the river and do business with us like we've done all these years, we're going to be happy about that," Manier says.

In the mean time, Poe says he is excited to finish the exterior, the windows and landscaping.

Partially to show off the potential he saw in what was once considered an eye-soar, but mostly to show potential tenants what's just over the horizon in Sunnyland.

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