Downtown Moline continues to see growth

MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) – The City of Moline has several projects happening in its downtown.

From the Multi-Modal Station set to open before winter, and the I74 bridge project well underway, these are just a small glimpse at what the city has been working towards over the past two decades.

Tuesday new apartment units opened in the Chase Bank building. It sits on the corner of 15th Street and 5th Avenue, and neighbors the century-old business Lagomarcino’s.

Co-owner of the shop Beth Lagomarcino has seen all the changes the area has undergone over the years.

“We grew up when things were really, downtown was a happening place,” she said. “And then you know we kind of went away to school and that's when all the business were leaving and the mall was happening. Downtown was pretty dead.”

Lagomarcino says downtown remained that way until the John Deere Pavilion came along. Since it found a home there, Lagomarcino’s has seen a change both in the area, and its own business.

“Traffic downtown used to be very low and we became a destination,” Lagomarcino said. “Now we can be more than just a destination. People can be intrigued by walking by.”

The 109 year-old shop is located on 5th Avenue which is known for being one of the most traveled in downtown.

“5th Avenue is really our main street and when we spent the money to re-street scape downtown, bring the parking back, it really activated the street and started to bring more restaurants and retail downtown,” said Director of Moline Planning and Development Ray Forsythe.

Storefronts across the street from Lagomarcino’s include Van’s, Lemongrass Café and Bent River Brewing Company, to name a few. All enjoy the improvements made to 5th Avenue about two years ago. And while Forsythe says this project had a huge impact on downtown growth, like Lagomarcino he agrees renewed interested in the area started about 20 to 25 years ago.

“The John Deere Commons was really the first big project,” he said. “Then we had the Radisson Hotel and then Stony Creek came.”

Now the Multi-Modal Station will bring an extended stay hotel and several restaurants, and a Marriott Hotel will call downtown home within the next year.

Forsythe says the key to the area's success, is diversity.

“We’ve continuously made an effort to keep a mixed use downtown, so we really like our daytime office workers.”

Big banks and law firms have office scattered in downtown. And an entrance to the Rock Island Arsenal also dumps onto one of the area’s main streets, River Drive.

“So we have a lot of daytime population that drives our restaurants and retail,” Forsythe said.

Now the focus is turning to downtown living.

“Because of our restaurants and retail it brings people in at night and now layering on the additional residential and the hotels that we're adding just really keeps it 24-hour activity,” he said.

In addition to the 31 apartment units that have opened up in the Chase Bank building, Forsythe says an additional 150 are being built in the former collector center site. People can also expect to see townhouses going up on 6th Avenue.