COLLINSVILLE -- The new year will bring changes to Collinsville's Eastport business district, according to community developer Paul Mann.
Passers-by already can see the land being cleared along Illinois 157 south of Interstate 55-70, as the Collinsville Crossing shopping center construction continues.
Months of site preparation, drainage and infrastructure have led to the first building: the new Long John Silver's/A&W that will replace the existing Long John Silver's on Bluff Road. The new Midas building also is under way behind the existing Midas.
"It's an exciting time, because everything is coming to fruition," Mann said.
Many of the businesses that agreed to be relocated for Collinsville Crossing are waiting on their new buildings before departure. Gateway Industrial Power, a tractor-trailer dealership, is the largest piece, Mann said. Its new building is under construction in the new Fournie Lane business district.
Other businesses, including the BP-Amoco station, Collinsville Automotive and Towing and the Kaleidoscope for Kids day care center, are moving to United Drive.
"Those have to get built before we can move onward," Mann said. Part of the deal with the relocated businesses was that their new facilities would be ready for move-in before they relinquished their old buildings, so they don't lose any business, he said. Mann called it "an orchestrated nightmare."
"We're working like worker bees," he said.
The United Drive business park north of Belt Line Road will see a lot of construction, with Culver's Restaurant already under way and the new Collinsville Animal Shelter on the drawing board. The business park is owned by developer Mike Wrigley, and is becoming "a hot spot in town," Mann said.
Meanwhile, businesses such as Randy's Trailer Town will only move across the street, with new locations on the other side of Mall Road from their current location. But the Wendy's franchise is likely shutting down without rebuilding, Mann said.
In the Collinsville Crossing shopping center, the Wal-Mart Supercenter and Home Depot will be joined by a variety of sit-down restaurants, two banks, a Walgreens and other retail outlets, Mann said.
Across the street, the controversy continues over a tabled proposal to create a business district for more development. The planning commission has unanimously endorsed the plan to create a business district and attract a single developer for the east side of Illinois 157 opposite Collinsville Crossing.
Neighbors, however, have strongly opposed the plan, and Mann said he did not know when the proposal might come back before the City Council.
Meanwhile, more development is likely around the Gateway Center, which is midway through its $5.8 million, 10,000-square-foot expansion project.
A trio of 30,000-square-foot office buildings is planned by developer A.J. Brown and will be next to the U.S. Post Office Annex, Mann said. He also is trying to attract a Motel 6 near the Ravanelli's restaurant under construction at the intersection of Collinsport and Commerce drives.
"It's an exciting time, and this will only be a catalyst for more and exciting things," Mann said.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 345-7822, ext. 21.
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