Priscilla Cook has lived in Peoria for 81 years. She knows the Oldtown area inside and out. Monday night she was among the first residents to view the city’s plans for phase one of the downtown commercial rehabilitation plan.

The proposal calls for façade and parking lot improvements in two major shopping centers on 84th and Peoria avenues.

“I’m not sure I’d really call this the downtown area, but I’m also just glad they’re doing this at all,” she said. “The city has been talking about revitalizing this area for so long I’ve just been hoping I’d see some of it in my lifetime.”

The commercial centers in question are in the 8400 block of West Peoria Avenue — Wagoner Plaza I on the south side of Peoria Avenue and Wagoner Plaza II on the north side. The project, with an estimated cost of $1.175 million, will see the exteriors of the buildings and the parking lots redone. Among the businesses affected are Peoria Café in Wagoner Plaza I and Brothers Restaurant in Wagoner Plaza II.

“We’ve met with the business owners in these properties throughout the planning,” said Project Manager Rebecca Zook. “We’ve had as many as 45 meetings with these businesses to get their input.”

Zook said city staff has been discussing the first phase of the rehabilitation project for about a year, with specific design concepts taking shape over the past two months. Scott Whyte, the city’s economic development services director, said the concepts shown at Monday’s meeting will be presented to the City Council at next week’s regular council meeting.

“We are ready to implement this project,” he said. “We are poised to start construction in mid-May and we plan to have it completed in August. This is a near-term project we feel will make a powerful statement about Oldtown. We’re excited.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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