Development: Transforming the Region

Kim Blickenstaff is a California-based entrepreneur who grew up in central Illinois and recently returned to share his success with his hometown. His slew of development projects announced over the last year will not only rescue several historic structures from the wrecking ball—they are destined to reshape the face of the region.

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Shannon Halford
SPECIAL REPORT: California man invests millions in Peoria Heights development

“Bradley University Marketing students did a couple of studies for us and we found that’s one of the appealing things about Peoria Heights is being a walkable community. That’s important to people from all walks of life.” said Mayor Phelan.

“As far as the residential homes in Peoria Heights, those probably aren’t going to be impacted, as far as values go. How it could impact all the people in our village is the tax rate, because usually if assessed values go up, tax rates go down,” said Laurie Epkins, Richwoods Township Assessor.

Another major reason Mayor Phelan is welcoming the investor with open arms, Blickenstaff is funding these projects on his own.

“He’s not asking for any money or incentives from the village, which is refreshing and unusual. These projects are all paid for by himself,” said Mayor Phelan.

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Shannon Halford
Not Just Any Developer

This healthcare entrepreneur—equal parts free-market throwback and can-do visionary—is putting his money where his mouth is. For starters, the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts—the former Kelly Avenue Library—had its grand opening on February 2, 2019, with an eight-band concert that doubled as a fundraiser for local music education efforts. It was a kickoff true to what Blickenstaff foresees as the facility’s mission.

“I knew it was going to work as a community center” when he first planted eyes on it, he says. He envisions regular concerts, dinner theater, film presentations, soapbox lecture events, karaoke nights, etc.—a cultural gathering place, inside and out, when the weather is accommodating.  

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Shannon Halford
Peoria Heights lofts, hotel and arts center planned by returning California businessman

A California-based businessman is returning to his roots with an imaginative, ambitious proposal that would remake the village of Peoria Heights.

Born and raised in Spring Bay, Kim Blickenstaff, 66, of San Diego, announced Friday his plans to turn the old Kelly Avenue Library, 137 E. Kelly Ave., into a performing arts center, a downtown office complex at 4617 N. Prospect Road into a 55-room boutique hotel and the former Grayboy Motorsports block at 4300 block of Prospect into loft-style homes and shops and restaurants.

And apparently, that is only the beginning.

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Shannon Halford