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A Publication of WTVP

The Peoria Medical and Technology District Commission met December 15 to begin discussion of Phase II: implementation strategies. Our discussions focused on short-term opportunities of five years or less.

The current draft of the Master Plan divides the West Main Street Corridor into three nodes: the University node, the Technology node, and the Medical node. In addition, each of the nine neighborhoods identified goals and objectives and how each connects to the West Main Street Corridor. We intend to create a very special, unique place distinctly known as the Med-Tech District.

Each node needs a defining project to be the catalyst for surrounding development. For example, the Technology node will begin development with an incubator. In the Medical node, there are discussions regarding private development on the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria campus. There are several potential private developments currently under consideration that could enhance the University node.

An important and critical element in creating an urban lifestyle is parking on West Main Street. Our "place" needs to be such a pedestrian-friendly environment that it invites people to live, work, and play in the Med-Tech District.

Other items discussed include conversion of multi-family units to single-family units, the acquisition of available land that would allow for future expansion within each node, and acquisition of land or available homes in various neighborhoods that would allow for development of parks and other amenities consistent with the neighborhood vision.

A major consideration for both the neighborhoods and the institutions is that it must be a safe and secure place. Numerous ideas regarding lighting programs through the neighborhoods and on north/south streets that could link into West Main Street were outlined. Improvements to redesign various streets would result in less traffic while permitting access to and from the neighborhoods. The development of a bikeway system that links the East and West Bluffs to West Main Street and, potentially, a bike path from West Main Street to the riverfront has tremendous appeal. Ideally, every citizen should be able to walk or bike safely from University Avenue to the riverfront and have a very enjoyable experience.

At our January 19 meeting, the commission began to formalize the various strategies and potential funding mechanisms. For example, do we need a tax increment financing mechanism to spur development? Should the West Main Street Corridor be an enterprise zone? In addition, there are other entities whose responsibilities are overlapping with our commission. We'll identify these as part of our implementation strategies so the actions, responsibilities, and collaborations necessary to achieve our objectives are clearly delineated.

We met with members of the city council January 25 in a policy session. After individual meetings with council members and the policy session, the commission intends to hold two public meetings in February for final public input. The commission intends to seek council approval of our Comprehensive Master Plan in late February or early March. IBI

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