‘The Block’ to offer new features for Peoria’s Warehouse District

PEORIA — The latest addition to the Warehouse District, unlike past developments, won’t include any residential units.

“The Block,” as envisioned by builder Casey Baldovin and developer Katie Kim, will instead bring new commercial life to five buildings on the 1000 block of Southwest Washington Street. The project will also use open space between buildings for the “Cantina,” an outdoor venue for musical events and public gatherings that could be up and running by this summer.

Baldovin, who owns Baldovin Construction Co., had a vision for the block of buildings between Washington and Adams streets, said Kim. “Baldovin plays ice hockey with my husband, Charles, who suggested that he use the Kim Group to help develop the property,” she said.

Kim said the buildings in question are now under contract. “We helped work on the financing. We’ll be taking a redevelopment agreement to the city next month,” she said.

Technology companies are lined up to occupy what Kim called building one, a structure on Adams Street, while building two, located between Adams and Washington, is being considered for a distillery to work in concert with the Cantina, she said.

Building three could potentially provide event space with room for an open market area, said Kim, adding that buildings four and five, on Washington Street, might house a restaurant as well office space for Baldovin along with another tenant.

“We also look to provide space for companies that might want to set up a remote location to do business,” she said.

“We look for this project to serve as destination space within the Warehouse District. We’ve had 220 housing units come online in this area in the last several years that are 100 percent leased. That speaks volumes for the public’s desire for urban living,” said Kim.

As well as serving a growing residential population in the Warehouse District, the Block looks to attract people from throughout the area, she said. “This is the experience economy. People will travel for an experience,” said Kim.

Whether that experience involves being able to sit outside to listen to a music group, shopping at an indoor market or dining at a restaurant that makes use of an older building’s large overhead doors and skylights, the project will provide a variety of attractions, she said.

Project buildings would be developed separately as businesses move forward with their individual plans, said Kim.

Michael Freilinger, president and CEO of the Downtown Development Corp. of Peoria, said the new project solves a problem that’s developed at the Warehouse District in recent years. “We are noticing an increased interest in commercial development for the Warehouse District,” he said.

“The problem is we haven’t had a lot of property to show potential buyers. There’s just not a whole lot of vacant property for them to take a look at. Now the Block adds some commercial inventory that can be rented by businesses,” said Freilinger.

“As we’ve been saying, residential growth supports retail growth, and now commercial business is coming in,” said Freilinger.

Steve Tarter covers city and county government for the Journal Star. He can be reached at 686-3260 or starter@pjstar.com. Follow him at Twitter @SteveTarter and facebook.com/tartersource.

Source: http://www.pjstar.com/news/20180305/the-block-to-offer-new-features-for-peorias-warehouse-district