Peoria Street Holds Block Party Signaling Return to the Glory Days

Published 08/02 2014 06:07PM

Updated 08/02 2014 09:05PM

PEORIA - West Main Street is trying to return to its glory days.

What used to be one of Peoria’s thriving shopping locations became a place many now avoid, but the fortunes of the block are changing for the better.  WMBD’s Ryan Piers brings us street side.

Steve Spain is the owner of The Costume Trunk, a shop he’s operated on West Main Street for 35 years.

“It's a great area for unique businesses. For artists. For performers,” says Spain.

He’s seen his community struggle to get by, but recently, more and more customers are stopping by his store.

“We've had people coming here every day that have never been on West Main Street before. And they go I didn't know you had such a unique shop.”

After decades of avoiding the area, young consumers are returning to West Main Street.
Local leaders say the area is rising above its dangerous reputation.

“There's a lot of potential here. So what we're doing here today is showcasing our vision for the future of what this street could be,” says Jessica Benassi of the Peoria Renaissance Park Community Association.

She helped put on a block party, full of music, open stores and a layout of what the street could look like. –

“Although the patio furniture and plants aren't permanent, Benassi says this is the future for Main Street.

“More landscaping, more outdoor seating, more sidewalks, and more pedestrian vision,” she lists.

And the store owners share her vision.

Julie Vonachen, the owner of Moon Dancer, believes in the future of Main Street so much, she left her comfortable, 2,300 square foot shop in the Shoppes at Grand Praire to relocate to a store a third of the size.

“We're hoping we can maybe attract more people to this neighborhood. I think it's going to be nothing but great,” Vonachen said.

And the move is proving to be a good one as Vonachen says sales are up.

Vacant stores on West Main Street were also on display as part of the block party, with hopes that a business may show interest.


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