Moline officials have been working for years to collect pieces of a puzzle. Slowly, it’s coming together.
Most recently, the city purchased the BridgePointe 485 property; the offices and mission space for Heritage Church. First the Montgomery Elevator Company, then KONE, the church acquired the property in 2017 with the goal of re-purposing it for community use.
Operations Pastor Paul Anderson said the church was able to renovate a portion of the building and used it for church operations. To keep in line with the community purpose aspect, other spaces within the building were rented out to non-profits. Moline City Administrator Bob Vitas said the city intends to allow the non-profits to stay in the space for the time being.
The entire seven acre property, including the building, came at a cost of $3.1 million. Vitas said this was right on target with what it was appraised for. BridgePointe invested more than $1 million into the property and renovated about 28,000 square feet, he said.
People are also reading…
The church was approached by a private party about selling. Church leaders in turn approached the city about purchasing it, because the “city had its eye on the property for some time” and the church wanted to continue its mission of keeping the space accessible to the community, Vitas said. Now the city has to decide what to do with it.
“Everything is on the table,” he said.
Vitas said the goal is to leave the building as a blank canvas until a developer can come in to tell the city not only what is viable in the space, but what is financially feasible. Infrastructure costs will determine what physical development can be done on the property, he said.
Looking ahead to winter, the Christmas tree will be visible in the tower, but the future of the icon is unknown. Vitas said an architect and engineer will need to determine if the tower can stand on its own. At a Moline City Council meeting last week, the estimated cost of tearing down the entire BridgePointe building was $1.9 million.
While the BridgePointe parcel is just one piece, Renew Moline has partnered with the city to help assemble the puzzle. CEO Alexandra Elias said there is a “checkerboard of ownership” in Moline. With the city acquiring the BridgePointe property and its land, the boundary lines are erased in that area. The city also owns the Spiegel building, the lot adjacent and the lot that was formerly covered by the old I-74 bridge.
“Now the city can be visionary, aspirational and decide what they want in this area,” she said.
Vitas said the city also has its eye on several DOT owned parcels throughout Moline. Once the department is finished with its work, it will “dispose” of the property, and the city will have the first right of refusal. These properties start on 7th Street and extend down to the church.
Acquisition is expected to begin after the first of the year, and the land is essential for development, Vitas said.
“Moline is the gateway community connecting the east to the west across the Mississippi,” he said.
In the grand scheme of things: Step one is to acquire the lots; Step two is to create the master plan; Step three is to meet with developers. Vitas said the timeline for this project will take years, but they are estimating by 2024 the city will have “eyes toward projects actually happening.”
And, it’ll start with the Spiegel Building.
The red factory building on 20th Street was build in the late 1920s as the Eagle Signal building. The city has owned the property since 2017 and is facing the challenge of keeping the community engaged, Elias said. The road to rehab has been a slow one, but things are finally coming together.
In 2020 a mural was commissioned on the building as a way to remind the community that progress takes time. A joint study is ongoing to determine what could be done with the building. Ownership has not yet beet determined, but an Urban Land Institute study suggested creating a “Heart of the Arts” district in Moline, with the Spiegel building being the anchor.
Elias said some ideas floated were artist lofts that would serve as a live/work space. But, that has not fared well for the city in past attempts.
“The other challenge of having a residential competent in the building is that’s inherently private and one of the things we wanted to explore collectively is whether the entire building could be a destination,” she said.
That opened the floodgates to begin thinking about makers’ spaces; studios could be set up for creators. That eventually evolved into the idea of a food hall. Elias said it would essentially be a food court with multiple vendors setting up shop. Customers could come in and choose from a variety of prepared food options all under one roof, similar to Davenport’s Freight House.
“The vision for what it could be is gelling, and the next question after that is how do we achieve the vision?” Elias said.
The final report will be available mid-November, she said. Another big piece of the puzzle is the much-talked-about skate park near the waterfront. Vitas said the community was in clear support of the venture and talks with IDOT have been initiated, considering the park would be partially under the new bridge.
A pump track, a giant waterspout, and a rooftop restaurant: Moline advances plans for land under old I-74 bridge (copy)
The $1.5 million project will require multiple permits. A request for quotes (RFQ) has been sent out to get a cost estimate on the preliminary design, Vitas said. This is required in order for the DOT to grant the proper permits.
“That would pave the way then for the project to proceed,” he said.
While the project of revitalizing Moline and acquiring pieces of the puzzle will take several years, Vitas said, the plan is a “game changer” for not just Moline, but the region.
“I think there’s a world of opportunity there for the city,” he said. “And it’s important as a regional hub for the Quad-Cities.”
Moline has a preliminary draft of a request for proposals (RFP) and is now waiting to take title of all the land. Things are moving quickly, and Vitas estimates results will be made public this fall. Inflation is slowly dropping, but cost concerns remain.
The city has had to adjust expectations on several projects that were supposed to be underway but have had to be put off because they came in over budget. Vitas said the city is ensuring the numbers they have now are “fool proof” to make sure it has the funds to complete all the projects it intends to.
“It’s a juggling act and that’s why priorities become important,” he said.