PEORIA,Ill -- Developer Gary Matthews officially became the owner of the Hotel Pere Marquette Thursday paving the way for the next phase of the downtown Peoria Marriott Hotel Complex.
Despite one hurdle after another, this spring, residents will actually see demolition and construction on the $92 million downtown Peoria hotel project. One obvious sign, a liquidation sale set to begin inside the Hotel Pere Marquette that will be gutted and renovated before the Marriott is built next door.
Mayor Jim Ardis said challenges and delays in the four years of planning were not surprising.
"Anytime the public is involved and you throw in the difficult economy on top of that and the difficulty you have securing financing," Ardis said.
Developer Gary Matthews said the recession of 2007 put a wrench in what was already a complex hotel project. After missed deadlines, Matthews scaled down the original plan and the city grant decreased by six million dollars. He is deferring a nine million dollar developer fee that will come out of operating profits from the hotel. Now, the city is getting a lower interest rate than it would have under last November's agreement.
"I feel over the last year we've really strengthened the deal to improve the position of the taxpayers," said Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich.
Matthews who owns two other hotels said it's never taken this long on a project.
"I lost a couple of tax credits and gained one. It was a moving target when you're trying to develop like that and you're trying to get your capital sources for financing it's tough. It's very tough but we're home now," he said.
Both Ardis and Matthews agree the project was worth all the work to get to this point.
"I think the future will dictate the definition of success to this project," Ardis said.
The liquidation sale could last up to three weeks. Mathews said demolition and construction will begin around May 1.