PEORIA, Ill. — A historic area in the heart of Peoria is getting new life.
All of Keller Station, right off Knoxville near Prospect in Peoria, will soon be vibrant with businesses in all of the buildings.
One of those (Building 1), also known as the old IDOT building right off Knoxville, has been sitting vacant for years, but not for long.
This campus goes back to the 1930s. But as the years went on, buildings were abandoned.
But CEO of the Kim Group, Katie Kim wants to change the landscape. She’s ready to take the historic area and turn it into the place to be.
“We have a bunch of businesses going in there in terms of restaurants, so there will be something to eat, working with a local brewery, and we’ll also have some pop-up shops,” Kim said.
On the first floor of the old IDOT building, business owners are invited to set up shop alongside an indoor market.
“We have a couple medical offices that are looking at going into the first floor. The question for them was, how fast can I get out to Route 91? How fast can I get downtown,” Kim said.
During work, they can grab some caffeine at CXT Coffee, which opened in November of last year, and then after work they can have a drink at the new brewery moving in next door.
Kim says she’s working very closely with the Peoria Park District to extend the reach and impact the area.
“Keller Station, I think, is that book-end to really make Donovan Park, in essence, our central park. That heartbeat in the city where there will be a lot more activities,” Kim said.
“We’re gonna do some bike activities this summer to get the community to come here and then get them out, get them out and get them healthy activities where the families can come and not only celebrate our tenants, but also bring our community in to introduce them to their businesses,” Kim said.
Kim expects the space to be available in about three months, hoping it gives entrepreneurs the ability to collaborate.
“I’d say almost every business here is a startup business or a growing business of a local business. And that was our focus, to provide a place for local entrepreneurs and local business owners to grow their business,” Kim said.
If you’re looking for a place to bring the family, Kim’s got that covered too. She says Bone’s, a restaurant serving burgers, fries, and frozen custard is opening up in March.
Businesses already opened in Keller Station are the aforementioned CXT Roasting Co. and Inspired Maternity, which offers prenatal and postpartum classes and courses for women. It also offers massage therapy and on-site daycare.
Phase one of this project was focusing on Building 1 and 2. The 2-story IDOT building right along Knoxville, as well as the IDOT garage, which will become the indoor market, connected to the building.
Kim says the indoor market will be a collaborative space encouraging businesses, entrepreneurs, and the community to come and socialize.
She adds I3 Broadband will provide high-speed internet for the community to enjoy in the market.
She also hopes this place can benefit Peoria’s youth.
“We’re gonna be doing something called the ‘Kid’s Corner’ in the market. It’s gonna be a designated area in the market, we’re trying to define the age, we’re thinking of going 21 and lower but are really looking at more high-school, middle-school, and grade-school kids. Where they have an idea, and they want to make something and sell it. They would be able to sign up for the space for free and market their product. The one caveat is they have to make it,” Kim said.
Phase two are the two buildings South of Building 1 and 2, they are already 100% leased. Bone’s Burgers, Inspired Maternity, and a few tenants who Kim will announce towards the end of the month are coming in there.
Kim adds this move could also impact roadways in Peoria, adding more freedom and accessibility to enter Keller Station from Knoxville and Prospect.
“We’re having conversations to extend Prospect Avenue through Knoxville at the current stoplight directly into Keller Station, which would be huge for access for the development. Then we’d have access off Northmoor, and the stoplight access off Knoxville,” Kim said.
Kim says many people from the public have come forward saying they want to have their business located at Keller Station before marketing for space even came out.
The architecture inside of the buildings is still strong, sturdy, and Kim says it has a lot of character.
“We want to be able to preserve the glass walls that are throughout the upstairs, and some of the beautiful architecture,” Kim said.
Kim said if Keller Station is approved as a ‘historic campus,’ it could receive a historic tax credit.
She adds they plan to take ivy off the building as it’s really bad for the brick.
IDOT sold the building to the Peoria Park District in 1996.
Kim says an art studio with also be a part of the campus, and she hopes to partner with Art Inc. in Peoria and hopes to get a whole mural painted at Keller Station.
The Kim Group is wasting no time on moving ahead with construction. Kim says next week they will start tuck pointing.