The Mill, The District is part of a new look for the redevelopment of downtown Granite City


A new arts and entertainment area known as The District, a new music venue known as The Mill, as well as a commitment to finding new purposes for vacant buildings, are central to the plan. of Granite City to redevelop its downtown area.

Mayor Mike Parkinson said The Mill, located at 1311 20th St. on the former site of the Nameoki United Methodist Church, is expected to open in about three months and the city hopes to host Christmas events there.

Ed Hagenauer, the former mayor of Granite City, led efforts to purchase the building near the end of his term. The land was laid for The Mill project about four months ago.

“It’s a $2.2 million project, but one of the things people talked about during the campaign was that there’s no nightlife in downtown Granite City,” said said Parkinson. “There is nothing for children to do and there is nothing for adults to do. To get any kind of entertainment other than a movie theater, you have to go to another city.

“We saw an opportunity to buy this former church and turn it into a downtown entertainment venue. We went with a local construction company, Tindall Construction (from Granite City), and this project provides good union jobs for the rebuild. They have been working on it now for several months and it is going very well.

Parkinson said The Mill will be a multi-purpose community center for the citizens of Granite City to enjoy.

“He has a big room that people will be able to use and use for things like birthday parties and baby showers,” Parkinson said. “It will have a bar with sliding garage doors that open to a courtyard outside.”

“The main hall will accommodate approximately 220 people for a concert, and it will include premium seating as well as regular seating. It can also be used for wedding receptions with a stage to put the band on. We can put tables there because they are not permanently fixed seats. We can adapt the room to everyone’s needs.

Parkinson pointed out that The Mill is only part of The District’s overall plan. Some businesses have already opened, while others are in the planning stages.

“We have Tinseltown, which is a pop-up bar; we have the Speakeasy, which is also across from Civic Park, and another space has a craft and antique store,” Parkinson said. “We have the park itself, where we hold Music in the Park every year.

“The city doesn’t own the park, but we lease it from the park district. It is under our control and we can hire it for weddings and other events. When The Mill opens, people will be able to hire the venue for their wedding receptions, and we’ll likely start booking for those in the next month.

Parkinson hopes to see a variety of new businesses become part of the district, all under the arts and entertainment umbrella.

“We want to see more entertainment-type businesses, whether it’s a brewery, a wine venue, or a sit-down restaurant,” Parkinson said. “We also have the cinema that we own, and we have a few other buildings that we’re trying to find the right fit for. We bought the old H&R Block building and redecorated it with retail on the ground floor and apartments above, and every space is filled.

“Across the street on Niedringhaus (Avenue), we have three other buildings that we own, and a new business, JJ’s Barbecue, is about to open in one of them. We also own a grassy corner lot across from the library and we talk about some uses for it, including renting out food trucks.

The city also purchased property on 19th Street that includes the former home of Krumrey Home Furnishings.

“We haven’t done anything with this building yet, but as we develop this square full of businesses and nightlife, we will renovate the ground floor of the building for more retail space,” Parkinson said. “We control the market because we own the buildings.

“The whole area is set aside for arts and entertainment, and we don’t want individual buyers buying these buildings and turning them into something that doesn’t fit our plan. This plan includes culinary arts, restaurants, bars, and a wide range of other things that will create nightlife and foot traffic, but we don’t want storage units or a Dollar General.

For Parkinson, the key to creating The District and redeveloping other parts of downtown Granite City is buying old buildings and giving them new life.

“Other mayors have tried to reorganize the city center and it started with just tearing down dilapidated buildings, but the stock of buildings that we have left, we have to maintain,” Parkinson said. “We need to change the identity of the city center and it is no longer invaded by crime. Those days are over.

“We have events at all of these businesses in the evening and events in the civic park and everyone is enjoying it. But we wanted to change the concept of it, and we wanted to give it a name, which is The District. When we finish this project and everything is in place, people will know where it is and it will be a place they can go any night.

Parkinson said the city will launch a webpage for The District that will outline what’s going on at each business.

“If there’s ‘Music in the Park,’ it will indicate what music and what band is playing,” Parkinson said. “If there’s something going on at The Mill, he’ll say what it is and how to get tickets. If the Speakeasy has a jazz musician playing there, you can find out on the website.

“So will Tinseltown, the Alfresco Performing Arts Center and other local businesses. We’re going to tie it all together on one page called The District.

Parkinson added that Granite City is also changing its official logo, which is a variation of The District’s new logo.

“We’ll take ‘The District’ out of it, but we’ll have the gear with the city skyline,” Parkinson said.

While building The Mill is the city’s current focus, Parkinson noted that The District itself is a longer-term project.

“Progress is slow with government red tape and we are moving at the fastest pace possible,” Parkinson said. “The pandemic has slowed everything down in terms of construction and material supply.

“We’re going to be working on The District for a while and we’re going to keep building it until it becomes a destination where you can park and spend an evening there without having to go anywhere else. “

Granite City Economic Development Officer Cathy Hamilton praised city officials for their efforts in downtown revitalization.

“Granite City is doing some very aggressive things that I haven’t seen in other communities in the East Metro area,” Hamilton said. “It starts with the purchase of buildings, and we run a program of real estate assets. It makes money for the city, and the city tries to position itself as a developer/owner to make downtown what we want it to be.

“The mayor has been focused on trying to make this area a community destination. The other initiatives the mayor is putting forward will help the district, and he is reinvesting in those neighborhoods. »

These initiatives include a tax abatement for homes in the neighborhood near The District, which will help encourage the rehabilitation of homes in downtown Granite City.

“Middle- and low-income housing was collapsing in our city, and that was driving down property values ​​and bringing crime to our neighborhoods,” Parkinson said. “At one point we had 36% rental housing in our housing stock and that doesn’t include apartments that were made to be rented out. They were single-family dwellings and that is a problem.

“Not all tenants are bad and not all landlords are bad, but we were seeing an influx of transients and the crime rate was starting to rise. We decided that we had to control this market and we made the most affected residential area a business area.

If a buyer wishes to purchase property in the corporate zone, they can obtain a certificate that they are a tax-exempt entity.

“They can buy all the materials and pay all the labor to fix this property with tax-free money,” Parkinson said. “If they then turn around and sell that property to a single family owner, that owner will get a 10-year tax abatement on those improvements.

“If this property is currently appraised at $800 per year and the property is worth $25,000 and the buyer is investing $60,000 in it and it is now an $85,000 home , it will still be valued at that original $25,000 for 10 years, giving a young, working-class family a reason to start looking at the Granite City market.


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