Plaza needs business infusion now

Times-Reporter editorial board

There has been a lot of talk about Sunnyland Plaza and Summit Drive.

Whether to expand Summit Drive so it connects to Grange Road and from there to Illinois Route 24 is an ongoing topic of discussion among East Peoria leaders.

Many people say the expansion of Summit Drive will help revive the Sunnyland area and Sunnyland Plaza.

However, at this rate, by the time the construction would be completed, it could be too late.

Sunnyland Plaza is currently home to the movie theater, Dollar General, Goodwill, the Sunnyland Branch Library, a military recruiter and one or two other tenants.

It used to have a Sullivan’s grocery store and a CVS pharmacy.

Both have since left, CVS first.

The CVS in the plaza closed after the chain opened a store at the corner of Wilmor and Washington Road.

Sullivan’s closed a few years later. The only consolation was, the Sunnyland location was not the only one to close. Sullivan’s closed up shop in all of its Peoria area locations.

With the loss of Sullivan’s and CVS, Sunnyland Plaza lost two powerhouse tenants.

Former Ward IV alderman Dennis Landry has been working on attempts to revitalize the plaza since then, but to no avail.

He, along with current members of the city leadership, have been in contact with the property owner.

City administrator Bob Morris said city officials have even given the property owner leads on prospective businesses that might be interested in locating in the plaza.

So far, nothing. Several storefronts still sit empty. The parking lot is a disgrace.

Part of the problem is the owner lives in San Francisco. Her sons, who manage the property for her, live in Chicago.

There is no local respresentation to witness the death of a community that was, at one time, more vibrant.

Another problem is that CVS still maintains its lease.

Morris said he was recently told the pharmacy chain just renewed the lease.

“I was told there is a non-competition clause in the lease,” Morris said, explaining that he understands that as long as CVS continues to hold an active lease, the space is off limits, and another drugstore cannot locate in any of the other spaces.

The Sunnyland Plaza owner has proven that as long as she has income from her property, she is not concerned with improving the property.

She has shown time and again that she is in no hurry to fill unused spaces, especially when one of those spaces is still drawing income from a selfish corporation that just wants to keep someone from moving in there.

If CVS was planning on using the space, it never would have closed that store.