GRANITE CITY, Ill. — Granite City, Illinois will put $2.2 million into a new venue for part of its upcoming art and entertainment district to will revitalize its downtown area.
On Thursday, Dana Pierce strolled through the streets of her hometown with her family.
"It used to be a happening city. Around 1960, it was the 'All American City.' All the shopping was in this area," Pierce said.
Pierce expressed excitement to see that spark return.
“Here at Civic Park, we have bands that perform on Wednesday nights that perform and just little pop-up things that happen that is really bringing the community together,” she said.
The Mill will be part of the planned four-block entertainment hub “The District” using redevelopment funds from the business district.
The venue with 220 seats will be space for all ages and all genres.
“We can have rock shows. Rap shows. Whatever we want to have here. We can rent it out for private parties. We can rent it out for civic events,” said Mayor Mike Parkinson.
Parkinson, who took his seat last year, continued the work of the city’s former mayor to purchase the property, lease the park across the street and listened to the public's call for more entertainment.
“I feel like we can rebuild that bedroom community and the affordable housing that we have if we give them walkable things to do," Parkinson added.
Andrew Taylor, who lives across the street from the upcoming space told 5 On Your Side he was skeptical but hopeful about the project.
"We've had a lot of businesses that come and go especially with the steel mill, they've been talking about losing jobs but if it brings in revenue, musicians bands, events, I think it can help Granite City a lot," Taylor said.
Jerry's Cafeteria up the street, known for its fried chicken and twice-baked potatoes, has been in business for more than 35 years.
Owner John Roderick said he was hopeful his business could be a stop for those using The Mill.
"We're caterers so we're hoping to benefit from that as well," he said.
"It won't' work out unless we support it and talk it up," Pierce added.
Granite City leaders plan for The Mill to be open by Christmas.