Out with the old, in with the new at Junction City

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A once-popular restaurant and nightclub building that had become an eyesore is coming down, just a few hundred yards from where new retail in under construction at Junction City.

The two are related as Junction City owners and developers continue expanding and improving that shopping center at Prospect Road and Knoxville Avenue while they prepare the site where a new senior care residential center will be built next year.

While the new strip of stores in Junction City, on the east side of the property, is going up with an anticipated completion by August, demolition started on the former American Pi building at 5720 N. Knoxville Ave., just south of Junction City on Knoxville Avenue. It will be down in about a week, said Chuck Hollis, a partner with Criterion Development Co.

Hollis said his firm will develop the senior care center site but will not operate it. He said he is unable yet to identify who will operate the center because the contract hasn’t been finalized. Noting there is still architectural work for the building and design work for the site to be completed, Hollis said construction won’t begin until 2016.

Another piece to the development is a new intersection that the city of Peoria has approved, he said. That intersection, which will include traffic control signals, will be at the entrance to Donovan Park and will match with a new entrance to the senior center that will double at the chief access point from Knoxville Avenue into Junction City. The drive will go underneath one of the spans of the Rock Island Greenway bridge that spans Knoxville, Hollis said, as per an agreement between Criterion Development and the Peoria Park District, which owns the bridge.

The building that was most recently American Pi, which closed nearly eight years ago, had earlier housed restaurants that just never seemed to succeed for very long there. That includes a steak restaurant known for its quality food.

That site also once housed a small motel that was razed several years earlier.

The 90-unit senior complex was originally going to be built on Junction City’s east side, where the new retail now is under construction. The size of the four-story housing complex drew opposition from neighboring residents, which caused the change in plans.

The new retail strip will be styled like the rest of Junction City and will hold five businesses. Hollis said four of the five already are leased. One of them will be a restaurant called Hacienda el Mirador, partly owned by Antonio Vazquez, long-time maintenance supervisor of Junction City, Hollis said.

A beauty salon, Duke Design, is another leased tenant.

He said he is not yet able to identify the other tenants planned for the new building.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).