By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
Alton enjoyed many successes in the past year, Mayor Brant Walker says.
“This is turning out to be the best time to be a part of Alton and to witness what is happening here,” he said.
The crime rate dropped another nearly 3 percent again this past year. The city’s ISO rating improved from a 4 to a 2, resulting in reduced property insurance rates for both commercial and private property owners.
More outwardly visible are the numerous significant improvements the city has made throughout its neighborhoods and corridors in terms of infrastructure and overall quality of life.
Public Works completed the overlay of more than 25,000 feet of major thoroughfares such as Broadway and Milton Road as well as Belle, State, Piasa, Henry, Washington and Brown Streets. Rock Spring Park is once again a place to experience, Riverview Park improvements are nearly complete, and Gordon Moore Park’s Oriental Garden has been restored.
Walker also pointed out that all of the city’s 13 water features have been restored and functional — something that hasn’t been a fact for more than 20 years.
Both new and revitalized businesses have brought renewed energy to Alton over the past year as well, with commercial investments totaling nearly $16 million by year’s end.
Alton Square Mall is under new ownership with new tenants including Ross Dress for Less and major remodels such as those at Maurice’s. Both Alton Memorial Hospital and OSF Saint Anthony’s have also completed major additions as well.
New to Downtown were the Old Bakery Brewery, Elijah P’s restaurant, along with major remodels to State Street Market and Morrison’s Pub. Argosy Casino opened Journey, its newest dining experience, and also began work on its Hops House. Drawing new visitors to Downtown was the installation of a statue honoring Alton-born jazz legend Miles Davis.
Firehouse Subs came to the city, as did Hampton Inn. Jimmy John’s opened at its new location. Homer Adams Parkway continued to fill up as well, with AT & T and DaVita Dialysis locating along the parkway. Alton’s Goodwill store invested approximately $730,000 in store renovations. Shogun, a Japanese-style steakhouse and sushi bar, has also established its presence on the Parkway.
Tourism remained a driving force as well. Events such as those at Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater resulted in an estimated $1.6 million in economic impact for the city, with additional estimates of well over $700,000 from other regional and national events and tours.
Ground was also broken on the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center, the high-speed rail facility that offers 35 acres for further commercial development.