Moline’s riverfront is changing.
On the other side of River Drive, two major projects are well underway.
“They’re creating hundreds of jobs, which is what the city is excited about,” says Ray Forsythe, Planning and Developing Director for the city of Moline.
The first project is the first phase of The Mills at Riverbend Commons. Forsythe says the private development is expected to open in mid-August. When it does, it will include more than 20,000 square feet of retail space on the bottom and 240 units of student housing on the top. Forsythe says the retail space will be 50-60% occupied by August and the student housing facility is already leasing.
“It’s great because it not only provides job opoortunities for the residents, but also housing for the students,” says Forsythe, who says the facility is open to all students in the Quad Cities.
The second project is the second phase of Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities Campus. According to Dr. Joe Rives, Vice President, the building will house the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, as well as a new two-story library.
“It’s going to offer a state of the art learning environment on the banks of the Mississippi River,” Dr. Rives says. “It’s going to offer new academic programs starting this fall. We have a new PhD program in Environmental Science, a new undergraduate major in Bi-Cultural Education, and a new Spanish minor – all based on what the community said we needed.”
Dr. Rives says they will get the keys to the new building in July and the building will be ready for fall classes. In the meantime, Dr. Rives says school leaders are already talking about what “Phase III” should be.
Forsythe says the developments do not stop there. In 2015, the developer of The Mills plans to build 150 units of market-rate housing with some more retail underneath. While it looks like it’s happening fast, Forsythe says there are years of planning involved.
“If you think about, 20 years ago when we were still really heavily industrial-based, the area where the student housing is going had a 300,000 square foot factory on it,” he says. “When I started with the city 9 years ago, one of the first things that we did was start to prepare that land for this type of project, so it’s taken 9 years to get this far.”
To watch the progress of The Mills, Madison Construction has set up a live web camera. Click here to see it.