PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Peoria city officials are aiming to improve the Warehouse District and promote future development, and a recent land purchase agreement may help.

The president of the Downtown Development Corporation of Peoria, Michael Freilinger, said the Warehouse District is crucial for downtown growth.

This comes as projects such as the 812 Lofts are underway, which will provide an additional 126 living units at 812 Washington Street. Freilinger also said two other projects are in the works that would also provide around 100 units each.

“Study after study, example after example shows in order for a downtown to be revitalized, you need people living in the downtown,” Freilinger said.

But one issue has plagued the area, the amount of parking available for a possible influx of tenants.

“A parking study was done several years ago which showed that we had a deficit of at least 800 cars,” Freilinger.

Tuesday, Peoria City Council approved a land purchase agreement with J.P. Riverfront LLC for an old rail property behind the 800 to 1000 block of Washington Street. The city bought the land for nearly $1.7 million using Warehouse District TIF.

The property will give the city a new tool to address parking in the area.

“The purchase of this land will allow us to put in a surface parking lot to service all of the buildings in the Warehouse District in that stretch,” said Patrick Urich, Peoria city manager.

At-large city councilman Sid Ruckriegel said the land purchase fulfills a promise made to businesses and residents in the area.

“To provide the amount of parking that we know we need, that will not only help current tenants but able to keep that furnace really going there,” Ruckriegel said.

Freilinger said the land purchase helps address an immediate need. By making the Warehouse District more attractive to developers, he said it’s beneficial for the entire city.

“We’re going to see 10’s and 10’s of millions of dollars invested in Peoria through the revitalization of these buildings,” Freilinger said.

Urich said he hopes it can begin once the weather becomes warmer.