“Coming Soon” signs fill vacant lots downtown Bettendorf

Business owners hope some new signs in downtown Bettendorf will remind visitors of what’s still to come.

“People come to downtown Bettendorf, and they’re like, ‘Holy smokes, what happened?'” said Mike Bawden, a member of the newly-formed Bettendorf Business Network.

Nearly 40 businesses have already moved to make way for the new I-74 Bridge, leaving behind a number of vacant lots and empty buildings at the foot of the current bridge. More work will start in 2015, when Grant and State Streets are realigned.

Construction plans and the current eyesores, though, have some downtown business owners worried.

“Traffic disruption for an extended period of time is always a major concern, so sure, people are worried, people are concerned,” said Bawden.

It’s why the City and the Bettendorf Business Network have teamed up, hoping to ease those concerns with some new signs that point to the future. The signs read “Coming Soon” and feature a rendering of the new I-74 Bridge, while others say “Bettendorf is Going Places” and include a website, BuildBettendorf.org, where visitors can go for more information.

Bawden says the main message is that downtown Bettendorf remains open for business.

“The location is awesome, just off the river,” said Laura Davison, a bartender at Riverside Grille. “It’s not going to change anything for us. We’re going to be open, I believe the whole time.”

The Bettendorf Business Network plans to post construction updates, downtown news, and events on the BuildBettendorf.org website in the coming months. Members hope the communication will keep downtown visitors positive.

“Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. We can’t see results overnight, but we feel confident things will just continue to grow around here and continue to change for the better,” said Bawden.

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