By | June 30, 2019

PEORIA — Local and city economic-development officials consider 254 acres of vacant Northwest Peoria land to be super.

State of Illinois counterparts agree, evidently.

What’s known as the Medina Plains Corporate Park is among 15 Illinois Super Sites, a designation instituted recently by the state Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

Each site has undergone a qualification process that assures it is up to standards developers require for large industrial projects.

On the commerce department website, Super Sites are listed and details are provided. The program serves as a one-stop shop for developers that want to save time and effort in researching whether a property suits their needs.

“Information is the most valuable tool,” said Chris Setti, CEO of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. “Now we have everything you would need to know about this one, particular location.”

Galesburg Logistics Park also is among the 15. Most of the rest are located in the Joliet area or along Interstate 57 in east-central Illinois.

The Peoria site is located between Radnor and Allen roads, off the west end of Townline Road near Walmart Supercenter and the North Branch of the Peoria Public Library. It’s south of Illinois Route 6 and north of the Pioneer Industrial Railway tracks.

Proximity to such transportation was among aspects critical to the tract’s qualification process, according to Cesar Suarez, a senior development director for the city.

“If you were looking to make a location decision, typically the best way to do so is to go to a site that has lifted all the mystery about the land,” he said.

“Is it clean? Is it level? Is it outside a flood zone? Is rail available? If it’s not adjacent to the site, it’s going to cost to deliver it to the site, and the cost of development increases.”

The cost of the land, or at least the asking price, is $50,000 an acre, according to city documents. Owners of the property are Wald/Land Corp. of Peoria and Dale and Betty Hollenberg of Bonita Springs, Fla.

The state requires each Super Site property to be at least 250 acres and have only one or two owners. Zoning must be industrial.

Utilities must be accessible — either directly on the site, to its property line or within a mile, depending on the situation. Included are electric, natural gas, sewer, telecommunications and water services.

Rail service needs to be adjacent. An interstate or four-lane divided highway must be located no more than 10 miles away.

“The Medina Plains area is really unique in our region, because it’s got a lot of the infrastructure,” Setti said.

Some of it, like sewer capacity, is the result of the municipal growth-cell strategy of the 1990s, according to Setti. He was assistant city manager before he moved to his current position a few years ago.

Wald/Land owns about 190 acres at the site. It has spent about $2.2 million on infrastructure, all funded privately, according to Julie Waldschmidt, managing broker for the commercial real-estate firm.

The land has been for sale for a while, but Waldschmidt appears to believe the state imprimatur might provide a spur.

“I do think that it helps bring the marketing more to a national level,” she said. “We do market our sites nationally, but this gives us another venue to do that.”

It took city staffers a couple of weeks to assemble for state perusal the Medina Plains package, according to Suarez.

“To qualify, a site takes a lot of legwork,” he said. “Usually the only time you do legwork like this is if you have interest from a party.”

Like Waldschmidt, Suarez and Setti now hope that interest — national and international — will be more plentiful and easier to attract.

Medina Plains probably is too small for most heavy industry. But light manufacturing, assembly, distribution and warehousing might be among appropriate pursuits.

Setti and Suarez appear to believe the Super Sites program can give locations like Medina Plains an advantage over similar spots in neighboring states.

“Speed is sometimes the key to winning,” Setti said. “Sometimes we have only weeks to put this information together, or even days, in some cases.

“This has already been pre-vetted by the state of Illinois. We’re very happy to be selected.”

Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or nvlahos@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick.

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