Renaissance Park…really?

First, check out the website for Renaissance Park. I’ll wait here.

Finished? Good.

Tonight Crystal and I went for a walk in Renaissance Park. We started at our home on Orange Street, walked down to Main Street, over to University Street, wandered around Campus Town, and then walked home.

Not only do I not see the potential for this Renaissance Park thing, I’m not even seeing the necessary culture in the surrounding area to sustain such a thing.

Instead, I see “Paycheck Advance” loan sites, empty buildings, and dark alleys.

I’ve read the brochure, and I’ve looked through the website. Right now, all I’m seeing is a wish-filled pipedream.

Am I missing something?

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3 responses to “Renaissance Park…really?

  • Golda Ewalt

    As a resident of the Renaissance Park area, I commend the plan and what is being done. Why do I like the area – let me count the ways:
    1) I can walk to work – great exercise and saves enery resources
    2) I have wonderful nieghbors
    3) One of the most interesting restaurants in Peoria – One World – is minutes away and I can walk
    4) I can walk to the oriental market to buy interesting ingredients and visit with the lovely store owners
    5) We have wonderful older homes in the area with TONS of character
    6) The riverfront is very close so we can enjoy the restaurants and festivals frequently
    We do have room to improve and this is what Renaissance Park is all about. Just this week there was ground breaking ceremony for a new medical complex in our area! Peoria needs to look at this area as a positive change and see what can be! I know I look forward to more changes and plan to stay to savor what is ahead!

  • Seth Ben-Ezra

    Hi, Golda! Thanks for commenting.

    Let me start by clarifying a couple of things that I didn’t mention in the original post. I also live in Renaissance Park. We just moved onto Orange Street, where we are currently renting and working towards purchasing a house in the next couple of months. I’ve been wanting to move into this area for a couple of years now, and I’m glad that we have finally arrived. I actually enjoyed being able to walk from Orange Street to University and Main. Like you, I really enjoy One World–indeed, I have friends who live in the apartments over the restaurant–and I find being able to walk there to be highly appealing.

    At the same time, there are serious problems in the area that can’t be overlooked. As I look at all the promotional materials, I see a raving over a reality that does not yet exist. Again, to be clear, it’s a reality that I want to exist. I’m not rooting for the failure of the Renaissance Park project. I’d like to see the Main Street corridor be a center of business and culture. I’d love to live in a place like that.

    But it’s not there yet, and it feels vaguely dishonest to be promoting something on the basis of future desire, instead of current reality. It’s true that we can walk to the Asian market or One World from where we live. It’s also true that I would not feel comfortable with my wife or sister (who lives with us) walking there after dark. It’s true that there are many older houses in the area with a lot of character. It’s also true that many of them are being sold off as families flee the area.

    There are many advantages to the Renaissance Park area, and I hope that our dreams for the area come true. However, I believe that more will be required than some government money and a slick brochure. Without a developing grassroots culture that will support the business and artisanship that we both wish to see in Renaissance Park, the entire project will be a failure.

    So I guess that we all have some work to do, eh?

  • A Dark And Quiet Room » A double date in Renaissance Park

    […] stand by what I said previously about Renaissance Park. But that includes what I said in the comments: Again, to be clear, […]

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