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By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    East side, west side, all around O’Fallon, the past year has been another good one for the city, and much of the success will spill into 2019.
    Grant Litteken, assistant city administrator, and Ted Shekell, Community Development director, say the city is entering a new period of growth, reflected by those attracted to what’s already in the community as well as the prospect for development in the area around Interstate 64 and Reider Road outside Scott Air Force Base. The city has 600 marketable acres on the north side of the interstate between Exits 19 and 21.
    O’Fallon is the “front door” of Scott Air Force Base, which employs over 13,000 people and has an economic impact of over $4 billion, he noted.
    “O’Fallon has been consistent over the last few years. But it’s just the beginning of our growth,” Litteken said. “Our projections are over half a million new visitors annually will be coming into O’Fallon, whether it’s to work, visit loved ones, visit the hospital, the Rec Plex or the (expanded) O’Fallon Family Sports Park.”
    The recent addition of HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the McKendree Metro Rec Plex is the genesis of even more business. Ground should be broken this month on a building that St. Elizabeth’s plans to lease as a radiology/oncology clinic, located across Regency Park Drive from the hospital.  
    The two new hospitals (the other being Memorial East in nearby Shiloh) have had a collective impact in enticing retailers and others, Shekell said.
    Two new hotels, Marriott Townplace Suites and a Hampton Inn, are under construction and a third one, a Fairfield Inn, has been proposed.  That 104-room facility will be built on the other side of Interstate 64 next to Gold’s Gym.
    New restaurants are also on the way, among them a Drake’s Sports Bar and Grill next to the planned Fairfield Inn. Several others have been proposed but not yet officially released.
    A new six-office complex is to be built behind the Green Mount Road Harley-Davidson.
    Residential growth also continues its decades-long boom.
    “We’ve had over 4,000 houses built since I’ve been here,” said Shekell, a 21-year veteran. “This year, we’re going to have over 170 single family homes, and they are all nice. All over town.”
    A 244-unit town home complex is also planned across from the new Rec Plex and will have local retail associated with it.
    Downtown O’Fallon is also experiencing growth. The new O’Fallon Station is a four-season pavilion that pays tribute to the plat on which O’Fallon was founded. It will become host of a farmer’s market and other community events.
    The city is also looking for development proposals for Southview Plaza, a 6-acre commercial site “right at the heart” of the city at Lincoln Avenue and Highway 50, said Walter Denton, city administrator.