Businesses Prepare For Walmart Development In Rock Island

After Monday night’s city council announcement that Walmart will be taking over the Watch Tower Plaza in late 2013, businesses in that area are already planning for the new year.

Two of them – State Farm Insurance and Black Hawk College’s Adult Learning Center – will re-locate to a lot on 9th Street, located just southwest of City Limits Saloon and Grill.

Owner of City Limits, Bob Anderson, says the move won’t bring more retail near his business, but it will bring more people.

“It’s all about traffic,” says Anderson.

Jeff Eder, Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Rock Island, tells News 8 that infrastructure work on the lot will start in the winter and if it’s a mild one, construction on the new development will begin in the spring with the goal for everything to be up and running by June 2013.

Anderson says he’s excited for this stretch of street to become what it used to be… busy.

“It was a main drag,” says Anderson.

Something else that may bring more business to City Limits is five new video gaming machines that Anderson says will be ready to go next Friday, November 30th, 2012. Anderson says he will be the first restaurant in Rock Island County to have the machines.

Anderson is not planning on expanding his building in preparation for the increase in customers, but he may expand his hours and even his payroll.

“I’ve got 42 people working for me now, but I plan on adding three or four or five more people just to cover the hours,” says Anderson.

Expansion is on the mind of Liz Sherwin. The Executive Director of the Illinois-Iowa Center for Independent Living says when they move, they’ll grow when they go to their new spot on 11th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue.

“Right now, we have 5,000 square feet and we’ll end up with 6,500 square feet,” says Sherwin.

Sherwin says they hope to break ground on their lot when Walmart does on theirs – in the spring – with plans to open in November 2013.

The Watch Tower Plaza location is expected to create approximately 400 jobs and bring in an estimated $1.3 million yearly in sales tax revenue.

In nearby Silvis, Ilinois, the Walmart is a big anchor for economic development. For more, click here.