Modernizing Old Town: Council approves zoning code update to facilitate revitalization

By Philip Haldiman
Independent Newsmedia

City officials want to revitalize Old Town Peoria.

One way they are working toward accomplishing this is through the city code.

Peoria City Council approved an update of the Old Town zoning code to facilitate more modern uses that officials hope  will lead to a revitalization of the area.

The Old Town Mixed Use District was established about 15 years ago.

Planning Director Chris Jacques said the approval facilitates two objectives — it cleans up the ordinance and expands the palate of acceptable uses to respond to a new environment the city is wanting for Old Town.

The city has recently received inquiries from businesses and other interested parties and the ordinance should be responsive to current needs, he said.

“We hope that with this change and the changes we will be seeing in the days ahead, it will seed the momentum we are beginning to see in this area and reposition it for future growth,” Mr. Jacques said.

In updating the ordinance, Peoria planners considered uses such as retail and services, businesses mixed with residential, cultural, recreational and entertainment uses, as well as single-family residential with some pedestrian-oriented goods and services and family-owned businesses.

New uses will include hotel/motel, indoor recreation or theater, social clubs, message establishments, tanning, nail, barbers and salons, as well as tattoo and body piercing studios.

The update also clarified that restaurants with drive-thrus are not permitted.

City officials hope the updates will promote the following land uses:

  • High-quality office, storefront retail, restaurant and entertainment to integrate with various residential components in order to create an urban center where people live, work and entertain.
  • Developments that create a compacted pedestrian environment and promote pedestrian activities that would balance day and night uses.
  • Innovative integration of compatible uses through the conversion of existing buildings and the development of new buildings in a manner that fosters sensitive and sustainable site design and architectural style.

Council member Vicki Hunt, who represents the area, said the ordinance looks really good.

“These are all the uses that we  want in Old Town,” she said. “I’m thrilled with this. Staff has listened and been malleable with the new needs.”

 

Old Town update
Here are some changes made to the city’s zoning ordinance as it pertains to Old Town Peoria:

  • Clarified that restaurants with drive-thrus are not permitted
  • Added indoor recreation/entertainment — already permit indoor theaters
  • Added microbrewery or distillery
  • Added hotel/motel
  • Added personal services (tanning salon, beauty shop, massage establishment)
  • Added tattoo and body piercing studio –subject to other permits
  • Removed 200-foot residential setback restriction from bar/tavern uses
  • Removed obsolete terms
  • Clarified that appliance sales and rentals included repair
  • Clarified that dry cleaning/laundry establishment included self-service


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