Developers Remain Interested In Downtown Hotel

Oct 25, 2016

The Commerce Bank Building and the Front 'n' Center Building in Downtown Bloomington.
Credit Staff / WGLT

Interest in converting dilapidated downtown Bloomington buildings into a potential hotel and conference center could be renewed now that the city has bolstered the area as a Tax Increment Financing district. 

During Sound Ideas, Mayor Tari Renner said he's aware of more than a handful of developers interested in any number of projects in the TIF boundaries, stretching roughly from Roosevelt to Center and Front to Washington streets. 

"The level of interest is substantial. I would say it's beyond 5 in terms of the people who have expressed interest," said Renner. "There's definitely lots of interest."  

Renner said the game changer for downtown is the Route 66 Visitor Center at the McLean County Museum of History, generating developer interest from across the Midwest. He thinks a hotel-conference center could tie the visitor center and the coliseum together. 

There have been a couple of proposals to convert the downtown Front 'N Center building and nearby structures into a hotel and conference center, but nothing's panned out. Currently, East Peoria real estate broker Jeff Giebelhausen, behind other proposals for downtown, has said he's working with the building's current owners to attract a 91-room, Route 66-themed limited service hotel.  

"That's still in the process of being negotiated and so we'll see as we move forward," said Renner. "Regardless of what it is, this TIF District is an important piece."  

Renner said he can't provide public details about any of the proposals in the pipeline at this point. He did say details could be revealed soon, depending upon how one defines "soon."