Development: Transforming the Region

atrium groundbreaking.jpg

From new construction to small-scale development to historic preservation, an abundance of exciting projects are underway and in the works.

Originally published in Peoria Magazines
Photos by Jeff Noble


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.

Blickenstaff’s purchase of the Scottish Rite is a first step in renovating the beautiful, architecturally significant landmark and bringing it back to life as a performing arts center. Just three blocks away, the developer and his team are helping the Peoria Women’s Club restore its historic second-floor theater, which once hosted world-famous authors and traveling performers.

Outside of downtown Peoria, Blickenstaff’s team is focused on a number of projects in Peoria Heights. The former Heights library is now home to the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts, named for the developer’s mother, a performer in the Big Band Era. Just up the road, his plans to build a 55-room boutique hotel on Prospect Road are in the works—with additional designs for loft-style apartments, shops and restaurants fleshing out a comprehensive vision of creating a boutique destination.

Even before Blickenstaff’s return to central Illinois, Peoria Heights was experiencing a renaissance as a “culinary corridor” and hub for specialty retail. The $5.5 million Trefzger’s Bakery project—which repurposed a historic warehouse as a bustling center of activity—catalyzed a wave of development that continues unabated. From the new Twelve Bar lounge to expanded retail and restaurant space at Heritage Square, the Heights’ charming downtown is playing host to live concerts, festivals and other community events.

With the installation of public sculptures and creation of an art walk, a newfound focus on the arts is expanding possibilities in the village, while the addition of streetscape seating along Prospect Road expanded al fresco dining from the sidewalk into the street itself. The recently announced Zion Social will soon join this thriving business community, with a focus on craft cocktails, specialty coffee, small plates and a unique social experience.

Shannon Halford