Monday, December 03, 2007

Peoria Riverfront Museum Fund Raising Progress

To answer a comment posted on this site in regard to the estimated cost of the museum and where the money was to come from I will pass on some of the information previously made public.

The original amount considered for the Regional Museum was $65,000,000 with $12,000,000 coming from the Federal Government, $12,000,000 from the State of Illinois and $6,000,000 from local governments, all taxpayers’ money. The full amounts of these, Federal, State and County financing appear at the present time not to be forthcoming. Only $600,000 from local governments has been pledged to my knowledge. $35,000,000 was expected to come from private sources.

Cat plans to invest at least $50,000,000 on Museum Square if the rest of the funding for the Riverfront Museum can be secured. This is a very generous offer even though many in the community feel that Cat should go ahead with their Visitors Center and the Riverfront Museum added when there are more pledges from both the private and public sector. That time could come when some of the current large capital projects are completed and are at least coming close to breaking even, the recession clouds lifted and property taxes stabilized.

To date, there is a $24,900,000 shortfall of funds raised/pledged. The Cat Visitors Center and Cat parking is $42,200,000 pledged by, I believe, the Caterpillar Foundation.

$5,000,000 for parking is coming thru TIF and the Department of Transportation, also taxpayer’s money.

The City donation of the land and other concessions including the Water Street upgrade add up to somewhere between $8 and $12 million depending on which city source is talking. I believe the City Manager is saying much more than that has already been given.

The Museum Board says $24,000,000 is still needed for the project to proceed. Estimated revenues and operating costs are projected to offset each other at around $4,100,000 on projected attendance of 360,000 yearly of both the Museum and the Cat Visitors center. Approximately 280,000 of these visitors are projected to come from outside the local communities.

To my knowledge, no surrounding county, village or city has made any significant pledges. To my knowledge the Casino in East Peoria has not made any pledge and there are indications they may not have been approached.

The full County Board will listen to input on December 13th at 6:00 approximately, 4th floor of the County Courthouse. Some board members have openly expressed that they will not support a property tax or a sales tax. However, governmental bodies have been known to change their minds.

Using the Public Building Commission is not acceptable to me or many other board members.

Most of you know that I support a museum providing the fund raisers can raise the funds to both build and operate a fiscally responsible museum year in and year out. That it would be an asset to the community, there can be no doubt. Especially with the two facilities connected. I believe the Caterpillar Visitors Center would need to make up their own losses or bank their own profits. I am not sure that this information has been made clear to the public; whether profits or losses would be Caterpillar’s responsibility or shared.

Please feel free to correct my numbers or statements if you are qualified to do so. Thank you.

I have been told that if the Museum Square does not proceed, the city will need to reimburse Caterpillar for demolition costs and buy back the land from the parties involved???


Stormin' Norman said...

I don't doubt these figures by one iota. Okay, maybe I'd be curious to see the marketing study that states the size of the entire Tri-County population is going to walk through the Taj Mahal's doors once a year. However, in taking a look at the bigger picture, do you suppose our leaders could let Joe Taxpayer take a little breather and start paying down some of this $10 trillion debt we've already racked up as a nation, instead of being forced to pay higher taxes for yet another pipe dream we can't afford? Baby Boomers like myself are starting to retire by the millions, and in terms of priorities, an homage to the glory days of the Hiram Walker distillery pales in comparison to simply being able to afford adequate health care for the remainder of our own glory days...

KEA said...

in addition to afford Cilco, and food and perhaps some other necessity .... enough --- not another taxypayer penny to this museum.

Priorities please --- police, fire, public works ..... needs vs. wants only thank you.

Gaic Conan said...


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I leave you the decision to publish the address of the website (

Thanks and good work!

Mark L. Johnson said...

Please allow me to clarify some information in Mr. Widmer's post related to Caterpillar's participation in this project.

"The Cat Visitors Center and Cat parking is $42,200,000 pledged by, I believe, the Caterpillar Foundation."
As presented to the Peoria County Board on Nov 08, the current cost estimate of the Caterpillar Visitor Center is $41 million. This amount will be funded entirely by Caterpillar Inc. None of it will be funded through the Caterpillar Foundation. To further support the project, the company has pledged a total of $1.2 million toward the construction of some type of parking facility on the site. While this was originally conceived as surface parking, the current concept is a single level underground parking garage. In order to utilize the $3.8 million obtained by Congressman LaHood for infrastructure development on the site, this parking garage must be owned by a governmental entity. The proposed owner is the City of Peoria. Therefore, it could be stated that Caterpillar is making a $1.2 million contribution to the City of Peoria for a construction of their parking garage on the site. This money will also be funded by Caterpillar Inc. and not the Foundation. The only funds for the project coming from the Caterpillar Foundation are the $11 million pledged by the Foundation to the Museum Group.

A few paragraphs later, Mr. Widmer states, "Approximately 280,000 of these vistors are projected to come from outside the local communities." I'm not certain what the source of these figures is, but these do not agree with our projections for attendance at the Caterpillar Visitor Center. We are expecting 2/3 or 160,000 visitors annually from the Tri-County (Peoria, Woodford and Tazwell) area. Of course, this will include many employees and retirees as well school age tour groups, but it definitely will be predominately a local based attraction.

Toward the end of the post, Mr. Widmer discusses the issue of who would have the responsibility of covering the operating expenses of the Caterpillar Visitor Center. The Caterpillar Visitor Center will be a totally seperate facility from the Museum. They will not be connected in any manner. Caterpillar Inc will own the 2.4 acres on which the Visitor Cenrer is located and will be totally responsible for funding the operation of the facility. Current plans are that the management of the facility would be the responsibility of the Corporate Public Affairs Department within the Human Services Division, and the budget for the operation of the facility would be the responsibility of that portion of the enterprise. As all Caterpillar employees and retirees and their guests would have free admittance to the Visitor Center, it is not projected to operate at a breakeven level and would require the company to subsidize it's operation on an annual basis.

I hope this information clarifies several issues.

Mark L. Johnson
Project Manager
Caterpillar Visitor Center
Caterpillar Inc.

curious said...

By way of recap ....

What is the total acreage of the old Sears block?

What is the value of the old Sears block?

Will CAT be paying anything to now own the 2.4 acres as proposed for the CAT Visitor's Center?

Mark L. Johnson said...

OK, Curious, I don't want to get into a habit of communicating and answering questions through the blogosphere, but your's are fairly simple.

The entire Museum Square site (basically two city blocks) is a total of 6.8 acres. That portion of the site intended for the Caterpillar Visitor Center is 2.4 acres and the remaining 4.4 acres is planned for the Museum.

In the redevelopment agreement with the City of Peoria, in exchange for funding the demolition of the entire site (including removal of hazaardous materials), the City granted Caterpillar the right to take title to the 2.4 acres. The demolition costs were $2.5 million, or Caterpillar optained the right to take title to the property at the cost of approximately $1 million per acre. However, Caterpillar has not, in fact, taken title to this tract of land at this time.

The value of the site is a very debatable issue. While there have been assessments of the site developed by professional appraisers, unless or until someone would make an offer for the site, it's questionable if the opinion of the professional appraiser is high, low or spot on.

Mark L. Johnson
Project Manager
Caterpillar Visitor Center
Caterpillar Inc.

kathleen said...

We appreciate Mr. Widmer’s interest in the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the entire Museum Square project.

We want to add to some of the information provided by Mark Johnson.

Yes, our attendance projections are that annually 120,000 visitors will come to the Peoria Riverfront Museum only. About 120,000 visitors will come to the Caterpillar Visitor Center only and another 120,000 will visit both. This puts the museum’s projected attendance at 240,000.

The museum’s Strategic Master Plan calls for 78 to 83% of visitors coming from our “resident area.” This area is based on the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) and the DMA (Designated Market Area.)

These numbers follow the national standards for museum visitation and is in line with Caterpillar’s projections as mentioned by Mark.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer some issues and we welcome any other questions and comments.

Kathleen Woith
VP of Communications
Lakeview Museum

Cal Skinner said...

Impressive exchange of ideas/information.

You provide a real public service.

Merle Widmer said...

Reading from a prepared presentation titled "Museum Square Capital Costs" given to me by Byron and Jim approximatley 12 days ago reads "Cat - Visitor Center;$41.0 M pledged. Cat parking $1.2 million pledged.)

As to number of vistors exspected, the document states "Museum Square bringing in 360,000 visitors annually". In blue ink handwriting, the document says "Estimate by White Oak Association - important to focus on totally of project."

Mr. Johnson says Caterpillar employees, retirees and guests would enter the Vistors Center free. What did the consultants say the free admittances would total out of the projected 120,000 attendees? If one half, that cuts the combined Cat/Museum paying total to 80,000 so what would this revenue add to operations income?

Mrs. Woith projects a total of 240,000 visitors a year who will visit both the Cat Vistors Center 120,000(many who will enter free) and 120,000 paying (approximately $960,000) to enter the partially public funded Museum. (Cat will contribute at least $11 million to the public Museum alone.) Mrs. Woith says another 120,000 will vist both the Cat Center and the Museum. If half of the 120,000 visitors (No admission for many to visit the Cat Vistors Center only) pay at a suggested admission of $8 dollars,(figures suggested by Mr. Richerson) amounts to approximately $960,000 for the Museum only and another $??? since the combined ticket cost figures for both the Museum and Visitors Center are not available to me at this time) combined (Cat - free and paying admissions for the Museum) making a total of probably less that $2,000,000 admission fees contributing to the projected total of yearly operating costs of $4,167,000. That leaves quite spread to be made up by annual fund raising drives, planetarium drives, theatre admissions, ect.

Mark L. Johnson said...

Mr. Widmer, the attendance projections for the two facilities proposed for Museum Square can be quite confusing. You're analysis of those figures, unfortunately, creates even more confusion as you've mixed applies (Museum attendance) with oranges (Visitor Center attendance). As concepted, these are two totally seperate facilities, operated by two seperate entities and the finances of each will be totally seperate. The number of Caterpillar employees, retirees and their guests that are admitted free into the Caterpillar Visitor Center (CVC) will have absolutely no impact on the operations or finances of the Museum.

If anything, the fact that Caterpillar employees, retirees and their guests will be admitted at no cost into the CVC will only be a boost to the Museum, as some percentage of these folks, during their visit to Museum Square may decide to also visit the Museum. If they are not members of the Museum, then they will have to pay an admittance fee to visit the Museum.

In your analysis of revenue potentially generated for the Museum by admissions, it appears you've failed to recognize that the majority of visitors to the Museum are assumed to be members of the Museum. These members of the Museum will support the facility through their annual membership dues, in exchange for which they receive free admission to the museum. So to understand the complete picture, you've got to recognize the number of memberships that the new Museum has targeted in their budget, the amount of their various levels of memberships etc and how many times each member is assumed to visit the Museum each year. It becomes a very complex spreadsheet in order to determine or assess the assumed revenue generation from various sources for the new Museum.

However, I want to emphasize again, what happens at the CVC relative to admissions revenue will only impact the operating statement for the CVC, it will not impact the operating statement for the new Museum.

Mark L. Johnson
Project Manager
Caterpillar Visitor Center
Caterpillar Inc.

Anonymous said...

thank the lord Mr. Johnson and Ms. Woith weighed in to correct the factual misrepresentations by a county board member. This is typical of many of his blogs. Was he sleeping during the presentation to the county board?

Mark L. Johnson said...

In Mr. Widmer's defense, Ms. Woith and I have worked on this project every day for at least the past four years. There are many different aspects to the project, many of which are very complicated and confusing. Mr. Widmer saw a 45 minute presentation at the county board meeting last month. It was a very, very brief summary of many of these complicated issues. He should be commended for attempting to pursue a more complete understanding of those issues that are of special interest to him. Unfortunately, in the present uncertain circumstances, some of those answers will depend on his own efforts and leadership within the County Board.
Mark L. Johnson
Project Manager
Caterpillar Visitor Center
Caterpillar Inc.