House Approves Legislation to Allow Revitalization of Vacant Hanna City Work Camp

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to help Peoria County redevelop the vacant property formerly known as the Hanna City Work Camp. The legislation, sponsored by State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria), paves the way for redevelopment of the blighted area by permitting private investment in the property for economic development purposes.

“This bill gives the county some much-desired control over a blighted area, which could very easily spark development opportunities upon its clean-up” said Rep. Unes. “This common sense measure to invest in this property is a win-win for all involved, as the unused work camp has been an eye sore for many years. Allowing for private investment should help pique the interest of potential developers and eventually grow the local economy.”

The Hanna City Work Camp closed in 2002 and sat vacant for nearly 16 years. The former prison work camp was owned by the State of Illinois and was operated by the Department of Corrections. In 2009, the State conveyed the land over to Peoria County. The 40 acre site has remained vacant due in part because the land is not allowed to receive private investment which is why the county and Rep. Unes are pushing legislation to give the city and county more flexibility to utilize the vacant lot for new development.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to Rep Unes for his efforts and persistent negotiation with the State on behalf of Peoria County,” said County Board Chairman Andrew Rand.  “Putting this land to better use provides the great potential for creating economic opportunity for our county and its taxpayers.  It is our hope that the site will one day be home to either a not-for-profit entity, or some viable commercial enterprise.  This bill gives us the flexibility we have long required to accomplish that, and we are anxious to finally move forward on that initiative.”

Currently, Illinois law only permits Peoria County to redevelop the vacant lot for public use, not private development. The legislation (HB 4319) sponsored by Rep. Unes will allow for private development of the former Hanna City Work Camp and also provides that if Peoria County sells the property, 10% of the sale proceeds shall be paid to the State of Illinois.

House Bill 4319 now heads to the Senate for approval.