Metro East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

The Parkway formerly known as the Edwardsville Town Center will offer residents “unique recreational and living options” in 184 luxury apartments. (Drawing courtesy of Plocher Construction Co.)

Edwardsville becoming ‘urban lifestyle’  mecca

Edwardsville saw a record $248 million in new construction during 2018, Mayor Hal Patton reported during the city’s annual Business Forecast Breakfast at Lewis and Clark Community College’s N.O. Nelson Campus.

World Wide Technology’s two-million-square-feet expansion in the Gateway Commerce Center, and other projects in the I-55 Corridor, account for much of that, Mayor Patton noted.

However, the city is also seeing an upturn in residential and mixed-use projects, he said.

Under a development strategy adopted over recent years by Edwardsville officials, the town’s Ill. 157 corridor is emerging as an upscale “urban lifestyle” residential district; with high-end rental apartment complexes featuring small retail stores at street level.

The projects are designed to offer the cosmopolitan benefits of downtown big-city living in a neighborhood setting, developers say. A range of millennials, affluent mid-career professionals and retirees are various targeted at tenants.

The Parkway — a  new $50 million development on the former Madison Mutual property at Ill. 157 and Governor’s Parkway — will offer residents “unique recreational and living options” in 184 luxury apartments, as well as 78,000 square feet of leasable commercial retail space.

The project will include multiple amenities including a resort style pool, social lounge, and walking/jogging paths.  

Previously referred to as the Edwardsville Town Center, the project was rebranded this month by its Edwardsville-based developer, Plocher Construction Co. Inc., with a new name and some design modifications for greater appeal to an upscale market.

The project will be constructed in phases over the next two years with final completion expected in 2020.

The new Whispering Heights complex, located off Ill. 157 near the American Legion Golf Course, will be comprised of 153 luxury apartment units — as well as more than 17,000-square-feet of retail and restaurant space — in two six-story buildings; the tallest in Edwardsville.

The studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments will come with community amenities such private garage parking, a state-of-the-art fitness complex, and rooftop terraces, according to developer. The retail area  will feature “higher quality restaurants, niche retailers, and personal service merchants catering to the higher income markets … ,” according to Holland Construction, the project’s co-developer.

The complex is set to open in the fall of this year.

The complexes are the first two market-rate residential facilities specifically developed to provide connections to the extensive Madison County bike and walking trail system.

Both were approved by the Edwardsville City Council as “planned urban developments;” a flexible classification adopted by the city specifically to facilitate such urban lifestyle complexes.

In all, Edwardsville issued permits for 1,246 construction projects in 2018; including five-story Gori Julian building, another mixed-use development on the county-owned property along Plum Street, and $16 million in projects within the city’s downtown area.

Significantly, about 95 percent of the investment downtown is coming from Edwardsville residents, Mayor Patton reported; suggesting local population has faith in the future of the city.

Edwardsville-based Contegra Construction was named the city’s 2018 Business of the Year, during the annual business forecast meeting.

The company accounted for about 48 percent of the new construction in Edwardsville last year and plays “a significant role in driving the economic growth of the area,” Mayor Patton said.

Mayor Brant Walker

Mayor says Alton undergoing  ‘a renaissance’

The City of Alton is experiencing a “renaissance,” Mayor Brant Walker declared during his annual State of the City address, Feb. 5.

Long plagued by economic downturn and, several times over recent years, by severe flooding, the city is now seeing an upturn in business openings, Mayor Walker told the East End Improvement Association.

He also noted:

— A major downtown redevelopment effort is underway; centered in part around renovation of the historic-but-long-closed Grand Theatre and landmark old Miller’s Mutual Building.

— Improvement projects have been completed at the city’s Riverview, Gordon Moore, Killion, Hellrung and Olin parks. A new capital improvements projects at Alton Marina will upgrade the fuel dock and accommodate larger vessels.

— Travel Channel designation of Alton as one of “The 50 Most Charming Towns in America” was just one example of positive national media coverage the city has received over the past 18 months.

Alton Square will be the subject of “major announcements” this year, the mayor predicted. The city’s Beltline remains a strong retail corridor.

License-plate-reading-cameras on the Clark Bridge have helped solve several homicides and numerous vehicle thefts, the mayor reported.

A new landlord licensing and rental registration program will reduce substandard and deteriorated housing, the mayor believes.

Sale of the city’s wastewater treatment plant is underway; a step which will reportedly net the city $54 million from Illinois American Water, as well as facilitate compliance with increasingly strict federal clean water standards.

However, the city continues to face “legacy” issues, the Mayor Walker acknowledged.

Increasing unpaid liability in police and fire pension funds remains the city’s most serious challenge, he said.

TRRA gets $7 million grant for MacArthur Bridge work

The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) has secured a $7.17 million federal grant to help cover work on the west approach to the MacArthur Bridge, which links St. Louis and East St. Louis.

The TRRA last year failed to win federal grant funding for replacement of the 128-year-old Merchants Bridge between St. Louis and Venice. The railroad association will now self-finance that $172 million project, with the assistance of two federal loans.

The new grant will cover about half the cost of trust replacement on the west approach to the MacArthur Bridge.

Co-owned by five major railroads serving the St. Louis area, the TRRA operates six major railyards around the area, including two in Metro East.

O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook

O’Fallon’s Van Hook named Police Chief of Year

O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook has been named the 2019 Chief of the Year by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP). The award is presented annually for leadership in both the community and  the police department and for service to the association.

“Chief Van Hook is highly regarded as a law enforcement leader in the Metro East and now, throughout the state,” said Ed Wojcicki, ILACP executive director. “It was impressive to read letters of support from a diverse variety of O’Fallon community leaders. He is proactively addressing every major issue facing law enforcement today, including community policing, recruiting minorities, active shooter training in schools, officer wellness, and building relationships of trust. His leadership is as solid as it gets in Illinois law enforcement.”

Chief Van Hook started his career in O’Fallon in 1990. He became police chief and director of public safety in 2013. He manages not only the police department, but also the city fire department and the department of emergency medical services.

The O’Fallon Police Department has 50 full-time sworn officers and 31 civilians such as telecommunicators, records clerks, and community resource officers.

He will receive the award on April 26 during the association’s annual awards banquet in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook.

Lewis and Clark College freezes tuition for a year

As other colleges and universities across Illinois are raising tuition, Godfrey-based Lewis and Clark Community College (L&C) is freezing tuition for the 2019-20 academic year.

“Lewis and Clark continues to empower our community by offering district residents a quality, accessible and affordable college education,” L&C President Dale Chapman said.

In-district tuition will remain $125 per credit hour, plus fees; with out-of-district tuition at $375 per credit hour – below the state average for community colleges.

For a full-time Lewis and Clark student taking 30 credit hours, tuition and fees will roughly $4,440 per year.

Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree could save an average of $17,598 by attending L&C for the first two years of a four-year degree – more when housing is considered, according to the college’s online cost comparison.

For the first time this year, L&C students will be able to register for a full year of courses – Fall 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020 – in a single advisor visit, rather than one semester at a time.

Registration for 2019-20 begins March 11 and runs through the start of classes each semester.

For more information and a complete breakdown of tuition and fees, visit



–Metro East Area News Briefs–