PEORIA — This could be the year when Caterpillar Inc. reveals what its new Downtown headquarters will look like.
Caterpillar spokeswoman Rachel Potts released the following statement Monday: "The headquarters study is going well and making good progress, but it is not yet complete; we have more work to do with additional information to be gathered."
"The study team continues to work with our outside partners to define the facilities, technological and organizational needs for a global company such as ours," Potts stated.
"Our goals remain unchanged in terms of exploring options to update, expand and modernize the company's corporate headquarters facilities in Peoria to meet our needs for the next several decades."
It was June 2012 when the company first announced plans to study options for updating its headquarters building, a Peoria fixture at 100 NE Adams St. since 1967.
That study was to take "several months," noted Jim Baumgartner, Caterpillar's director of corporate public affairs, in a Journal Star interview from the summer of 2012.
"We're looking at various options, from a complete renovation to the existing building to finding another location Downtown that could involve renovating another building or buildings or buying some land for a whole campus approach."
In July 2012, Caterpillar released a list of four firms to provide "design and building experience" for the company's in-house study: Gensler, a design and architecture firm in San Francisco; Turner Corp., a New York-based construction management firm; Environ, a technical and scientific consulting firm in Arlington, Va.; and Farnsworth Group, a Peoria-based engineering and architecture firm.
In December 2012, Caterpillar purchased the Chase Building, 124 SW Adams St., for $1.5 million from TCF National Bank. In May 2013, Caterpillar bought the Peoria Professional Building, 207 Main St., for $2.9 million from the Prairie Property Group.
Combined with the surface parking lot that Caterpillar already owns at Adams and Main streets, the company's purchases mean it now owns all the property on the Adams Street block between Main and Fulton streets.
Those building purchases have given rise to conjecture that Caterpillar's plans for a new headquarters might take shape on the next block from where the main office is located.
Meanwhile, there's been activity in Downtown Peoria's commercial space.
"You've had people moving around — not new businesses coming in," said Tom Camper, a broker with Joseph and Camper Commercial Real Estate Co., 5001 N. University St.
"We just relocated the DHL shipping from the Peoria Professional Building to the PNC Bank Building. Caterpillar had told them that the elevators would no longer be in service after December."
Camper estimated the commercial vacancy rate Downtown at about 15 percent, down from 22 percent a year ago.
The fact that Caterpillar's plans for a new headquarters remains in Downtown Peoria has been called a boon by community leaders. Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said Caterpillar's decision revived a hotel firm's interest in Downtown Peoria.
Page 2 of 2 - Doug Stewart, regional president of PNC Bank in Peoria, said "the ripple effect from new development in the Downtown means more traffic for restaurants and entertainment venues. It creates further revitalization."
Steve Tarter can be reached at 686-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.