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Asian carp processing facility, $45 million Levee District project win East Peoria Council approval

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EAST PEORIA (HOI) - The East Peoria City Council is giving its blessing to plans for an Asian carp processing plant, and to an estimated $45 million residential and retail development in the Levee District, offering leaders some signs of economic hope beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to change an ordinance and grant a special use permit to allow entrepreneur Roy Sorce to freeze carp from the Illinois River, cut the fish into chunks, and package them for bait in a building at 3201 N. Main St.

Sorce told the council he wants to reduce the Asian Carp population in the river, while at the same time create jobs and generate "livable" wages for the local fishing industry.

Council members noted Asian carp have been quite a nuisance, and even a safety hazard.

"There have been measures for years to keep them out of the Great Lakes," said Commissioner Mark Hill.

"Anything we can do to stave off some of the population is probably a well-spent venture," said Hill.

"I hope (Sorce) makes a lot of money. I hope he does well with this," Commissioner Daniel Decker said.

"It would be great if he helps reduce that population." said Decker.

City leaders were unable to quantify the potential economic impact of Sorce's fish processing business.

Meantime, commissioners unanimously approved an agreement with Flaherty & Collins Development Inc. to build 230 condominiums and apartments, 10,000 square feet of retail space, and a garage with parking for up to 350 cars on city-owned land in the Levee District.

The agreement calls for the development firm to receiving tax increment financing incentives to help pay for the project.

"We're not spending money up front," said Ty Livingston, East Peoria's planning and community development director.

"The land is coming with it, but the rest of it is being dealt with based upon what the project generates," said Livingston.

Commissioner Decker noted the development accomplishes the city's long sought-after goal to have people live the Levee District.

The project's residential component ensures the area's long-term success, according to Decker.

Construction is expected to start next year, and completed in 2022, Livingston said.

Howard Packowitz

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