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More Housing & New Transit Center Coming to Downtown Rock Island

Updated: Oct 2, 2012 06:33 PM CDT
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Downtown Rock Island is normally a place known for the river front and night life, not always for its living space. However, that's changing, with more downtown housing and a Metro Link Transit Center on the way.

Both the transit center and the apartment complex , called "The Locks", will be going in a parking lot on the corner of 1st Avenue and 19th Street. Rock Island GROWTH, Metro Rock Island, and the city are all behind the project and they are hoping to break ground as early as this fall. City leaders said for the past ten years they've been adding housing and businesses to the area and this is just the next step.

 "It's very exciting, we know it's a very aggressive move," Renaissance Rock Island President Brian Hollenback said.

Hollenback said 60 new jobs are on their way to the downtown right now so he can't settle for anything less.

"We have a waiting list for market rate housing in downtown, I have 60 units I need to fill in about a year, so we are anxiously getting this development up and running."

The animation company Great River Studios is behind the new jobs. They are currently expanding and setting up shop on the third floor of another new development, the Stern Center.

"What's really important for our people is most of them won't need cars, so parking problems will be eliminated, a lot of our people like to walk," Manager, Frank Coyle said.

 Hollenback said making the area a more "walkable" community is part of the idea. He said people can depend on the new transit center for transportation. Plus the bike path will be extended and streets improved as part of the project.

Hollenback said with the increase in downtown residents it has created a bigger tax base and a boost in business. It's a trend he hopes to continue, bringing to life what many are calling a new era for the downtown.

"The vibrancy of the downtown area in Rock Island has had peaks and valleys, and not so many years ago we were in a valley and through the city council, the Mayor, Brian Hollenback, you can see the vibrancy coming back," Coyle said.

The apartment complex will have 34 units, ranging from studio to one two or three bedroom. It will also be energy efficient. Hollenback said the project will cost six million and 2.1 million of that amount will be financed through TIF.

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