Good morning, troops. It's Wednesday, April 4.
The area along the Illinois River at the foot of Main Street in Peoria is undergoing transformation as we write. Demolition began Monday of the platform that housed Riverfront Village, an often-star-crossed collection of restaurants and offices.
The platform was constructed 18 years ago to help spur development along the river. It's fair to say the platform didn't do its job, in that respect. Eateries came and went.
One even did so before the platform opened.
When an outlet of the Hooters restaurant chain was proposed for the platform, Peoria City Council members and others spewed indignation about waitresses there showing less skin than can be found on a typical summer day at Lakeview pool.
Thus Hooters shuffled off the platform and down Water Street, where it remained until it closed late last year. Not-so-coincidentally, that was the end of Hooters' 20-year lease agreement with developers Mike Wisdom and Monte Brannan.
(That's the same Monte Brannan who partnered with Gary Matthews on the beleaguered Downtown hotel project. Can this city pick winners or what?)
But before all that, a bigger strain of Peoria Puritanism doomed riverfront revitalization for a generation.
God bless former Mayor Jim Maloof, but he was the primary culprit, although not the only one.
In the early 1990s, Maloof led a municipal charge to keep then-new riverboat gambling from establishing a base in Peoria. Moral opposition to wagering appeared to be the primary focus.
"In one way, it's bad money," the now-deceased Maloof told Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano about eight years ago. "It's bad money in that it breaks up homes, breaks up businesses (and) marriages."
Perhaps. But East Peoria had no qualms, evidently.
City officials across the river pressed hard to land a gambling boat. The Par-A-Dice arrived in 1993 after about two years at a temporary dock near where the Riverfront Village platform stood. Ever since, Peoria and East Peoria have split the local share of riverboat revenue.
"I think the Peoria Chamber (of Commerce) was a little ambivalent and I think the (Peoria) council was split," ex-East Peoria Mayor Dick Dodson said in a 2014 Times Newspapers story. "Our council was four square. I had a great council."
Today, the area around the Par-A-Dice dock is much different than it was 25 years ago. Several hotels, restaurants and service stations that grace the area wouldn't be there, probably, if not for the casino.
It's safe to assume at least some of those amenities would have bloomed along Water Street in Downtown Peoria had the Par-A-Dice landed there.
Would the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Caterpillar Visitors Center, located across the street from the platform, still have been built? Probably. But they might have been integrated with riverboat development to provide a multi-entertainment district unparalleled in Illinois outside Chicago.
Soon, the platform will be gone, and the riverfront at Main and Water streets will be a relatively blank slate. The city is soliciting suggestions about how that area should develop.
Nick in the Morning wishes the effort successful. But we keep wondering how Downtown, the Warehouse District and other aspects of our city (like its potholes) would look now if not for Maloof's stance all those years ago, no matter how heartfelt or virtuous it might have been.
"It would've solved a lot of problems we have on the riverfront," another late Peoria icon, Pete Vonachen, told Luciano. "We wouldn't have had to build that platform."
Nor would we have had to tear it down.
The song heard on the way to work might be considered a clarion call for riverfront-development help.