East Moline Development May Include Taxpayer Dollars

A multi-million dollar project in the Quad Cities is on track and moving forward, but not without some help from taxpayers.

“River Eagle” — a group of investors — want to transform the former Case New Holland site in East Moline into “Fountainhead of the Quad Cities.” The $150 million development would include a Hyatt hotel, a Hyatt extended-stay hotel, an 80-unit apartment complex, retail space, and more.

Investors would like the city to pay for some of the infrastructure, such as putting in streets and improving the levee. News 8 interviewed East Moline Mayor John Thodos on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013. He says he doesn’t know how much that will cost yet, but he says the city is in negotiations.

“If there’s not a mechanism in there it makes it difficult for the city to be involved,” said Mayor Thodos. “I have to be confident as the Mayor and as a taxpayer and as a 50-year resident of this city that I have a project that is great, but does not in any way jeopardize us at the back-end.”

A city investment could be advantageous, Mayor Thodos said. Unlike regular road work, a capital improvement project in a TIF District means any money spent could be paid back with the increment generated by what is put into the TIF District.

“We have to make sure increment is created and that it’s sufficient to pay for whatever the roads are,” Mayor Thodos said. “Quite honestly, it’s a very worthwhile project. I think overall it’s a worthwhile endeavor for the city, but you have to ensure that the city is protected.”

Taxpayers who talked to News 8 on Wednesday agree.

“I would lean towards the idea of East Moline providing some kind of help working on the roads,” said Ralph Drexler, who says he thinks the city needs to take it under consideration. “Otherwise, that’s a rather large project.”

“It’s worth every bit of the effort to have that developed down there because then you’ll get more development down there after you’ve done that project,” said LaWanda Smith, who says she sees the project as an economic catalyst.

Phase 1 of the project – which includes the hotel, extended-stay hotel, and apartment complex – is expected to start in fall 2013, but the city and developer still need to come to an agreement and that agreement needs to be approved by city council before anything moves forward.

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