PEORIA — A riverfront residential project flooded by controversy over the prospect of transforming some public parkland into private property has quietly evaporated after years of rancor.

The city of Peoria has terminated the redevelopment agreement with Desmond Curran for the River Trail project, which would have built apartments on part of Riverfront Park.

The not-for-profit group Friends of Riverfront Park is urging the city to now follow through with additional steps to secure the future of the property as public green space.

The space in question is about six acres of land just to the northwest of the Peoria Park District's RiverPlex Recreation Center, property owned by the city but maintained by an intergovernmental agreement by the park district.

The development agreement for the 143-unit River Trail apartments has been active since the end of April 2015, subject to multiple extensions approved by the Peoria City Council in the interim.

That body approved the most recent six-month extension in December. When the due diligence agreement expired on June 29, each party had 10 days to terminate the relationship if various pre-set conditions had not been met.

The city of Peoria exercised that option to terminate in a letter to River Trail Drive, LP, and Curran on July 2.

According to the Friends of Riverfront Park, however, the city has not yet withdrawn its application to the National Park Service to sell parkland. The group claims that the official withdrawal of the application will place the parkland under the protection of federal regulations and continue its use as public parkland.

The city also must resolve related parkland property issues involving Rocky Glen and Southtown with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and National Park Service to close out a land and water conservation grant.

The city's path forward on that issue was not immediately apparent Monday night, but the Friends of Riverfront Park suggested a first step: new land appraisals.

The group argues that a premature move toward additional land purchases to correct the grant issue could leave Riverfront Park open to future development.

 

Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or mbuedel@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.