$80 million student housing development headed to Moline

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Construction will begin this month on an $80 million student housing project in Moline.

Tuesday, the City Council agreed on development plans for a new student housing complex along River Drive, just west of the Western Illinois Riverfront Campus.

The first phase of the private development will include 20,000 square feet of retail space and housing for 240 students. Phase two includes market rate housing, a grocery store, and other amenities meant to serve both WIU's campus and the greater Quad Cities. The development will be built on 15.5 acres of land just west of campus.

Phase one of the development should be completed by fall of 2014. Construction of the next phase will start after the first is completed.

A new, smaller-scale project at Black Hawk College has also shown the success of using public-private partnerships to build student housing in the Quad Cities.

"It makes it feel like a dorm room pretty much, because it's just a big, long hallway, and it's just so easy to meet new people," said resident Abby Winfree.

Opened in the fall of 2013, The Villas at Black Hawk College are privately owned, but a partnership with Black Hawk provides housing for up to 120 students. The Villas offer two- and four-bedroom apartments to students from both out-of-town and the Quad Cities.

"We're bringing in students from everywhere that we would not normally get to have here at the college, so the college is benefiting from it, and I think our community is benefiting from it," said property manager Sheri Graham.

After opening just two months ago, units at The Villas are already 70 percent filled. Managers say there is a clear demand for housing close to school, and students say the proximity to campus is the biggest benefit.

"There's more to do than driving back and forth from either home or even a house somewhere. You're more involved than living at home," said student Cody Phillips.