A Publication of WTVP

10 Qualities of a Great Waterfront Destination

The Project for Public Spaces is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to the creation and sustainability of public spaces that build stronger communities. In this spirit, the group compiled a list of the ideal qualities of great waterfront destinations. With the ongoing revitalization of downtown Peoria and recognition of the Illinois River as this region’s greatest asset, here is an abridged version of that list—food for thought as projects continue to develop in and around Peoria’s riverfront. For more information, visit

  1. Surrounding buildings.Buildings along the waterfront should boost activity in the spaces around them. They are ideally mixed-use, with seamless interaction between inside and outdoors. Conversely, high-rise towers with no ground-floor public use cut off the waterfront from surrounding neighborhoods.
  2. Limits on residential development.Great waterfronts should be full of people day and night—the sites of festivals, markets, fireworks displays, concerts, spontaneous celebrations and other high-energy gatherings. A high concentration of residential development can prevent nighttime activities from flourishing.
  3. Round-the-clock, year-round activities. Rain or cold is no reason for a waterfront to sit empty. Creative programming can take inclement weather into account, while the smart use of amenities can provide protection.
  4. Flexible design. Successful waterfronts adapt to changes that bring different users at different times. Therefore, flexibility must be built into their design. On-site storage for movable chairs, tables, umbrellas and games is important so they can be used at a moment’s notice.
  5. Creative amenities. Amenities should increase people’s comfort and enjoyment and establish a setting for social interaction. Strategically-located benches and waste receptacles can make a big difference in how people use a place. Lighting can draw attention to specific activities, pathways or entrances, while public art is a magnet for all ages.
  6. Access by boat, bike and foot. The waterfront experience can be greatly enhanced when it’s easily reached in ways other than driving. People feel more at ease when not overwhelmed by traffic and parking lots. Where streets are necessary, they should be designed to minimize their impact on pedestrian safety and enjoyment.
  7. Showcasing local identity. Making the most of local identity, history and culture stimulates interest and creates a unique sense of place. Opportunities to appreciate local art, music and theatre help draw a community together.
  8. The water itself. The greatest asset of any waterfront is the water itself, which should become the centerpiece for activities like water taxis, boat tours, restaurants or bars on anchored boats, fishing, kayaking and swimming. Embracing the natural uses of a waterfront can lead to thematic programming such as boat festivals or performances on floating stages.
  9. Iconic, multi-functional buildings. Attention-grabbing buildings that reflect a human scale and do not detract from the surrounding context can be a boon, so long as they serve a variety of functions.
  10. Good management. Management is essential to ensuring a waterfront remains successful. Partnerships among city agencies, property owners, waterfront businesses and community organizations should be forged so a diverse variety of programming gives it a unique character throughout the year.


Come to Peoria!
What’s one thing you would bring to Peoria if you could? In an attempt to get a pulse on the community, we asked this question of this year’s 40 Leaders—and here’s what we learned!

First, we like our food! Two people said they would like to bring Whole Foods to town, while three others pine for Trader Joe’s. They’re not alone—nearly 2,500 people have “liked” the “Bring Trader Joe’s to Peoria, IL” Facebook page. With 19 Chicagoland locations and just a single downstate location, perhaps the specialty retailer will take heed.

As for dining out, Dr. Zohra Moeenuddin says simply, “More restaurants.” Marcus Belin would bring a host of restaurants and attractions from his hometown of Chicago, while others were more specific. There were calls for P.F. Chang’s and Portillo’s, while Rusty Gibson would like to see D’arcy’s Pint of Springfield expand to the River City so he no longer has to drive 75 miles for the “best horseshoes ever.”

Cliff Laine suggests Blues City Deli, a St. Louis eatery famous for its po-boys and muffulettas, and Megan Pedigo would bring Shawn’s Coffee Shop of Sycamore, Illinois to town. As for Joshua Herman, until he convinces someone locally to stock Martin’s Potato Chips, they can be ordered online at

Two of Peoria’s finest restaurateurs offered up their own wishes. Travis Mohlenbrink of Sugar, Salt and Cracked Pepper would like to see “more passionate people wanting to be involved in the food service industry.” He’ll surely need the help as he ramps up the opening of his fourth restaurant, Thyme, in 2015. Meanwhile, Chef Dustin Allen of Edge wants to see a better understanding of the impact of local foods on the community. “No matter what profession we are in,” he notes, “we are all connected by food.”

Illustrating commitment to their fields of interest, Courtney Ransom of RLI would bring more young talent to work in the insurance industry, while education consultant Nicole Couri Wood would bring a charter school for preschool through high school students, offering “a non-traditional setting that uses project-based learning with a focus on the arts and… integrating technology into a blended environment.”

On the business side, Nick Brazis would like to see more early-stage investors and developing technologies come to the area to help build the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Peoria can become a center for innovation,” he touts, “with the right investments and opportunities.” Adam Hawks is rooting for a new Caterpillar world headquarters in downtown Peoria—perhaps we’ll hear about that next year—while Scott Rinkenberger wants to see another Fortune 500 business put down roots here. Shabeer Amirali would like to see more diversity in Peoria, and Becky Rossman would focus her efforts on the city’s south side, bringing new businesses and opportunities to learn skilled trades.

After last year’s polar vortex, winter is on the minds of many. “Warmer winters,” “South Texas winter weather” and “good weather all year long” were all suggestions, if unlikely ones. “The beach” and “the ocean” are tough asks as well; “mountains” would require some significant seismic activity; and “Hawaii”… well, it’s safe to say, that won’t be happening.

More seriously, Andrew Berberich would bring back the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to complete his canonization process. Other ideas? File “NFL team” and “Disney-themed attraction” as “unlikely.” More practical? Crate and Barrel and World Market… or how about a trampoline park, climbing gym or parkour course? (Look it up—it sounds interesting!) Finally, a memo to Heather Bowman’s family, scattered from Wisconsin to Florida: come to Peoria! She’d like to see you more often.


PR Words to Avoid
Are you looking to be more effective in creating press releases for your organization? First of all, don’t use the word “solutions”… or any other word that could be used to describe practically anything. It’s a crutch, explains Matthew Schwartz of PR News, and it can cost you dearly when you’re trying to get your pitch into the right hands. Besides “solutions,” here are nine more words to avoid in your press releases, courtesy of GrayHairPR founder Reg Rowe: “synergy,” “cutting-edge,” “value-added,” “outside the box,” “industry-leading,” “innovative,” “disruptive,” “world-class” and “revolutionary.”

The Spouse Effect

Just how influential is your spouse’s personality on your workplace? New research from Washington University in St. Louis shows the effect—on promotions, salaries, job satisfaction and the like—can be quite powerful. In a five-year study of nearly 5,000 married people of all ages, workers with the highest measures of occupational success tended to have spouses who scored high for conscientiousness. They may come to rely on their partners to handle more of the daily household chores and are more likely to emulate their partner’s good habits, such as diligence and reliability. In addition, having a spouse that keeps one’s personal life running smoothly may simply reduce stress and make it easier to maintain a work-life balance.

Animals vs. Asthma
Sleeping on animal fur in the first three months of life may reduce the risk of asthma in later childhood. According to a new study, the chance of having asthma at the age of six was 79 percent lower in children who had slept on animal skin after birth compared with those who did not. The research, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, suggests that exposure to the microbial environment in animal skin and fur could have a protective effect against asthma and allergies. iBi