it as, to that date, “the most important thing Peoria had done, maybe ever.” ‘THIS IS NOT JUST A TYPICAL MIDWESTERN CITY … IT'S ONE OF GLOBAL IMPORTANCE’ — Angelos Demetriou No one who takes that many swings hits every pitch, of course. The enclosed shopping mall that was a key component of the Demetriou Plan never broke ground, which remains a Carver lament, especially after he had lined up the urban renewal pioneer Jim Rouse, who rescued Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, to oversee it. The RiverFront has its stages and festival lawn but not quite the amphitheater and lagoon Demetriou envisioned. No new City Hall was constructed. Demetriou drew up a geodesic dome for the Civic Center, but Philip Johnson had other ideas. The boulevards and high rise residential towers promising up to 1,000 units for 3,500 Downtown residents never materialized. “The Civic Center exhausted people,” recalled Leitch, who described Demetriou as “happy at what had been accomplished but disappointed by the opportunities that had been lost.” For his own part, near the end of his relationship with Peoria, Demetriou acknowledged that “there are still things to be done. But you have now

created the assurance that, yes, there is a downtown … I always remember you, I miss you, I cherish you … I envy you for what is ahead. And, I bless you.” Angelos Demetriou died, age 79, in 2009. There were obituaries for the “internationally known architect, city planner and urban designer” in the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post, in which his Peoria work merited a mention. “This is not just a typical Midwestern city,” Demetriou once said. “It’s one of global importance, with people of enormous talents and enormous egos and pride.” It was the kind of affirmation that leaders of the era had yearned to earn. When the Civic Center opened in June 1982 with a concert by Kenny Rogers, Carver sensed immediately that something significant had been accomplished. “I wanted to excite people. I wanted people to think about not where we were but where we were going,” he said. “When I left Peoria in 1984, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Peoria had completely changed,” with a new attitude that the city could “do the things we needed to do to get things done. “My goal was to get the city standing tall. For a time, it did.”

Original plans drawn by Angelos Demetriou

Center squeaked by on a 5-4 vote. The conventional wisdom was then and remains today that if the whole thing had gone to public referendum, it would have been defeated. Today, Carver looks back at that vote and the Civic Center that resulted from

Mike Bailey is editor in chief of Peoria Magazine


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