Plans to bring Walmart to Rock Island are crawling along, as the city took another step in its ongoing bid to revitalize 11th Street Monday night.
Monday, the City Council voted to create a new TIF district that includes Watchtower Plaza and spans nearly 70 acres along 11th Street. It will likely take much longer, though, for Walmart to actually open in Rock Island.
“When you first announce something, people always want to say, ‘When?’” said seventh ward alderman Chuck Austin. “I’m not surprised at all that it’s taken as long as it has. It’s one of those things, you do it quickly, you might do it wrong. You do it slowly, you can do it right.”
Watchtower Plaza now sits mostly empty, as the City has acquired every property necessary for Walmart to move in.
Economic Development Director Jeff Eder said Hill and Valley bakery will be the last tenant to move from the plaza. The business is slated to move by the end of the year into its new location at QCIC.
“The city has been working on this for almost two years to get to this point,” said Eder.
Eder says Walmart is still in a review period, but that all indications point to the superstore making its home in Rock Island.
The City has already invested close to $15 million in acquiring Watchtower Plaza and developing a new business park behind City Limits Saloon, but Eder remains confident that Walmart will eventually sign onto the site.
“It’s not going to fall through. We’re ever the optimists — but we’ll have a great piece of property to work with. All indications are Walmart wants to build sooner rather than later,” said Eder.
Eder said it would be a “long shot,” though, for Walmart to open in 2014. It typically takes at least 6 to 9 months to build a new store, and that won’t happen until after Walmart purchases a site and obtains all necessary permits.