EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Mayor Robert Eastern, III, laid out progress and future plans for the City of East St. Louis during his State of the City Address Thursday night.
More than 200 people including city leaders, groups and residents packed out the auditorium at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's East St. Louis Higher Education Campus to see what is in store for the city filled with so much history, pride and hope for its future.
Eastern addressed strides in the city's crime reduction:
- In 2019, there was a 2% reduction in crime from 2018.
- In 2020, homicides in East St. Louis dropped 2% while the police department had a 33% solve rate.
- In 2021, non-fatal shootings saw a 10% decrease and the police solve rate increased to 58%.
- In the first five months of 2022, the homicide rate was cut by 50% and non-fatal shootings had dropped another 20%.
Eastern said as the city begins to attract more residents, the data was something to be proud of.
"We're rewriting our story. We're not going to be East St. Louis anymore. We're going to be 'East Safe Louis,' I'm very proud of that, you know," Eastern said.
Eastern said East St. Louis used to hold the number one city in violent crimes, it is now not even in the top 50.
The mayor talked about Code-RED, an emergency notification system that seeks to communicate vital information and emergency alerts to residents through their phones. Residents scanned a QR code to register.
The mayor said through a partnership with Landsdowne UP, a nonprofit whose mission is to transforming Landsdowne, East St. Louis "into a thriving neighborhood - one person, one property, at a time," the Landsdowne UP website says, the city seeks to develop 20-30 market-rate homes in a subdivision on 25th street and Gross Avenue.
The city will work with banks to educate residents and prepare them for homeownership.
“East St. Louis residents are at the forefront,” Eastern said.
The mayor also revealed the Illinois State Police will relocate to East St. Louis with a $55 million facility. He only provided preliminary information.
Eastern then applauded the city’s Adopt-A-Street program, which has addressed trash and litter in the neighborhoods. The program launched in May 2021. He thanked some of the organizations who had adopted streets.
A new solar panel facility through Ameren Illinois, called the East St. Louis Solar Energy Center is being constructed on a 17-acre site on State Street across from East St. Louis Senior High School. The space will be comprised of more than 5,700 solar panels that will harness energy from the sun and feed into the energy of the local grid. The project broke ground in March and will cost $10.2 million, according to an Ameren news release.
The release said the center is expected to be operational in late 2022 or early 2023.
The mayor said the city saw a sewer rate increase because they will soon sell the sewer system to Illinois American Water Company. Until that happens, the city leader proposed a lateral improvement program to help residents out with the slight increase and help mitigate backed-up water.
A $37.9 million project called "The New Broadview" which seeks to transform the Broadview Hotel, a historic hotel built in 1927 that sits in downtown East St. Louis, into a mixed-use affordable housing and commercial development, has been fully funded and groundbreaking is set for this summer, Eastern said.
And as part of the city's 2030 plan, East St. Louis is also set to receive a boost with an $800 million development and master plan from Michigan real estate developer Howard Hughes, III.
- Phase 1 will include between 25-50 homes and two new hotels.
- Phase 2 is for the Central Business District to be shaped into future shops, downtown lofts, restaurants and entertainment spaces.
- Phase 3 is the redevelopment of East St. Louis' interaction with the Riverfront.
The ultimate goal is to make East St. Louis a “Smart City.”
"That will have different features such as a solar form, several homes and a city-wide internet of things of other things to come, while creating green and renewable energy," Eastern said.
"East STL is the first predominately-African American urban community to experience this type of growth and it's something to look forward to. I'm so excited," he said.
The mayor also addressed the city's infrastructure dollars, including the $38 million the city received in American Rescue Plan funds.
Of the $38 million received, $1.5 million has been appropriated.
He said some of the ARPA funds are set for projects including a new trauma center, a senior home and capital projects, according to Eastern.
We will update this story if more information is shared.