A Publication of WTVP

An old building in Peoria Heights gets a new lease on life.

When Simon Trefzger opened the bakery bearing his name in 1861, he could not have imagined what that business would grow to become more than a century and a half later. After relocating numerous times in its early years, the iconic Peoria bakery found a home at 3504 North Prospect Road in the 1950s. Current owners Jeff and Martha Huebner took the reins in 1993, and today, their business stands at a crossroads for growth—poised to nearly double its square footage.

The New Trefzger’s
By September, Trefzger’s Bakery is expected to reopen inside the mammoth, two-story brick structure at 4416 North Prospect Road in Peoria Heights, occupying the entire first floor—about 12,000 square feet—as well as part of the basement. The sprawling facility, known as the Hobart Building, was originally built in 1895 as the Rouse Hazard bicycle manufacturing plant, where a young Charles Duryea honed his skills before engineering the first working gasoline-powered car in the U.S. The building has had many lives in its 121 years, having previously housed a boxing club, restaurant, heating/air conditioning and food service equipment businesses, and a service area for Grayboy Motorsports, among other uses.

The move will offer the bakery much-needed space for expansion, including a seating area for waiting customers and other amenities to enhance the retail experience, as well as new menu items and space for additional wholesaling capabilities. The wide-open space will allow customers to watch Trefzger’s talented cake decorators in action, and there’s even plans for live music, an outdoor patio and a pathway to the Rock Island Trail, which runs behind the building. The second floor will house the Trailside Event Center, with capacity for 250 people and large windows overlooking the trail, as well as a hair salon with a wedding-room area for new brides.

In addition, Leaves ‘N Beans Coffee Company plans to relocate its wholesale and roasting facilities to the building, while retaining its current retail location several blocks north on Prospect. Its future front door will be located close to where a pair of murals was discovered during demolition of the adjacent building. One of these murals, depicting an early Duryea automobile, had local history buffs excited for a few days before its 1977 provenance was confirmed, thus holding little in the way of historic value.

A Historic Collaboration
Many other historic elements, however, are being retained, and the building itself is historically significant—a perfect match for a business like Trefzger’s, one of Peoria’s oldest institutions. “They wanted to go into a historic building that really reflected their brand,” explains developer Katie Kim, who helped put together the complex financial package, which includes federal historic tax credits and TIF dollars. “When you take on a [historic] project like this, it costs a lot more than new construction,” she adds. “To build this building today would cost well over $10 million. Just the renovation alone is $5.5 million… Without those incentives, the market can’t justify the cost.”

The project is a collaboration among a number of entities: the Village of Peoria Heights, Peoria County, the Small Business Administration, Hickory Point Bank and an investor group led by the Huebners. “Without every single one of them, it couldn’t happen,” Kim says. “The fact that we had all those entities working together to help a small business stay within our community and grow is phenomenal. That’s what we should be doing—we should be collaborating more.” With construction well underway, the new Trefzger’s Bakery is set to open in September, with the Trailside Event Center to follow in October. iBi