Rock Island Recruits New Walmart Supercenter - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Rock Island Recruits New Walmart Supercenter

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     A commercial giant is coming to Rock Island. Walmart plans to set up shop in the Watch Tower Plaza area. City leaders are moving forward on a major re-development project there on the 11th street corridor. where a Walmart supercenter will be the anchor store.
     It could be a big shot in the arm for the area with an expected 400 new jobs. The city recruited Walmart as part of an even bigger effort to revitalize an area that badly needs it. The city and developers are moving quickly. Monday night they took the first step in buying nine properties in and around the plaza. About 15 properties total are impacted, including several businesses, the VFW, and a State Farm office. There are also a handful of homes that have to go.
   City leaders say negotiations with Walmart have been in the works for the last 9-11 months. Many are excited for the changes that are on the way because the area has long been in need of big retail option like this.
     "We're estimating $1.3 million in sales tax that's going to come into the community every year. It's big stuff, great stuff," said Mayor Dennis Pauley.
     "It helps future development as well. Also helps balance the budget in the future. It's a very exciting time for everyone," said Alderman Terry Brooks.
     Rock Island is taking out a line of credit for about $10 million for this project. As part of the deal the city takes care of buying the properties and getting construction underway. Then the city will turn around and sell to Walmart. Beyond the retail giant as the anchor store, the plan is to have several out lots to house even more businesses. It's something that has residents in the area talking.
     "Good for the economy and the jobs too. If they do build a Walmart here they'll be looking for a lot of help especially around here so that will be good for a lot of people that need jobs too," said Renika Martin who lives nearby.
     "Walmart is not my place that I really shop, maybe if it would be closer maybe," said Gale Hickman, another neighbor.
     Helping businesses relocate is another part of this. In an effort to keep them in the area the city is also working on a separate development agreement not too far away near City Limits Saloon and Grill on 9th Street. The city hopes to start relocating businesses there as soon as possible and several already on board.
    The plan is to start construction on the Walmart project this spring and open up before next Christmas.
    Monday night city leaders also voted to move forward on to create a new TIF district as the existing TIF at the Watch Tower area is set to expire in 2014. The new one will help pay for buying property, building infrastructure and surrounding improvements.