In my quest for finding what makes certain places great and chronicling them here, all I can do is keep my eyes open and have my camera handy. Although I don’t drive aimlessly, I do make sure I have sound photographic evidence of what I see and how I see it.
As you may have figured out by regularly reading my blog, my wife and I treat our dog like he is the Prince of Peoria. This past Saturday was no exception. Rudy was in desperate need of some TLC, and I had made him an appointment to get a canine cleanse.
I don’t normally recommend people drive to and fro for what may seem to be a simple chore, but in this instance I had to ignore my own words of wisdom. My 18 mile drive to My Dogs Bakery in Peoria was unavoidable. My dog had nails like Flo Jo and smelled Jovan musky. So I obliged.
This pooch paradise I speak of is located in Peoria’s Metro Centre. I have been there on several occasions, but on this day I took note. I had 45 minutes to kill while his majesty was being pampered so I meandered around. Normally, I wouldn’t dare sit in front of the computer for any length of time writing positively about an outdoor shopping center to accentuate a point – but here goes nothing…
Metro Centre has successfully created a buzz and has built a positive experience in a place that would otherwise be just another shopping plaza. Of course, I’m biased to historic downtowns, cities, and other more authentic settings. However, Metro Centre seems to come as close to getting off the hook per my standards.
By assessing their website [link], you can see this isn’t just another run of the mill shopping plaza or strip mall. At first glance, looks may be deceiving, but on this day for me, I could see clearly that there is more than meets the eye as to why Metro Centre is continually leading the shopping and dining scene in Peoria.
If I were ranking this development, I would give it a 3 out 5 stars. There is a good mixture of uses throughout and there are a wide range of products, services, and restaurants located within. On the weekends, when in season, they have a Farmer’s Market, and other events like art festivals, holiday open houses, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure that keep people interested in the Metro Centre year round.
However, the development does not have any multi-story residential living nor any industrial uses, so I couldn’t give it a full 4 stars. I did take the proximity to neighborhoods and other commercial/industrial uses into consideration. I also weighed into the rating that it is not just laid out alongside the road or in some far-flung location. Over time, it has become the “Centre” of where the sprawl of Peoria has taken place. With other things being built around it, it has actually become somewhat of a densely filled area of activity.
Small details of attention are paid throughout the shopping plaza. Flower planters, seating, lighting, bike racks, and event banners add some finishing touches. These may seem like cheap placemaking gimmicks by now, but nonetheless, if they weren’t there, they would be missed. They are the furniture in the room, the paintings on the wall, and without such elements, the visitors to Metro Centre wouldn’t have such fulfilling experiences nor would they be able to sell their whole image.
I have completely over-analyzed a simple shopping center so that you won’t have to. Next time you’re in Peoria’s Metro Centre enjoy everything that it has to offer. You can grab one of the best sandwiches in the city from Pottstown, buy a new bike from Bushwaker, walk around, take in an event, or treat your dog to a day usually only reserved for the British monarchy.
Rudy approves this message.