Peoria Keller Station mall plans new entrance on Knoxville Avenue

PEORIA – Effective immediately, Prospect Road forms a Type T intersection at its northern terminus, Knoxville Avenue. But this three-way red light could soon become a four-way light.

Katie Kim, who oversees the mixed-use development of Keller Station on the west side of Knoxville Avenue, wants to connect her property to Prospect Road at this intersection. This is not a simple procedure.

“There are many, many, many steps,” Kim said. “It’s my first time drawing a design for a red light. It’s definitely a learning experience.”

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Kim said she hopes construction of the intersection will take place this year.

Knock down a wall at Keller Station

The proposed new entrance would be the second from Knoxville Avenue at Keller Station, an office/retail/restaurant complex whose first tenants opened in 2019.

A wall now stands along the Keller station boundary at the Prospect-Knoxville junction. The proposed entrance would be just south of the building that housed Bone’s ice cream restaurant, which closed last year.

“The way we’re looking to design it, we’re just hoping to add this red light extension,” Kim said.

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How will the intersection extension be paid for?

Keller station would pay for the intersection extension, according to Kim. A special sales tax at Keller Station businesses is an option for a revenue stream.

The creation of a Keller Station commercial development district has been proposed. Such a district would allow the imposition of an additional sales tax of up to 1%.

A similar funding mechanism helped pay for improvements at the Westlake Mall in Peoria.

Proceeds from the Keller Station tax could be used to fund further improvements. Kim cited new sidewalks and benches.

Several additional steps required before construction begins

The city council should approve the creation of the Keller Station tax district, Kim said. A public hearing is scheduled to take place at the February 22 council meeting.

“In the past, it got a bad rap about how people use it,” Kim said of the fundraising program. “All of our proposed expenditures are for community development within our campus. … If done well, it can add a lot of value to the community.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation will also need to approve the intersection project, for which a traffic study is required. IDOT’s involvement stems from the designation of Knoxville Avenue as a national highway (Illinois Route 40).

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A regional IDOT headquarters and highway maintenance facility were once housed in what are now the Keller Station Buildings, which the Peoria Park District eventually took control of. Kim and the park district are partners in development.

The new intersection is among other proposed improvements to Keller Station. A bakery, flower shop, and event center are to occupy spaces in the buildings the park district once occupied.