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Moline’s Garfield School closer to senior apartment project in 2017

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MOLINE, Illinois — Moline's shuttered Garfield School is a step closer to converting into senior housing. That's after developers cleared zoning hurdles to build 57 apartments. After sitting empty for more than a year, there's hope that construction can start in early 2017.

Right now, the century-old structure needs some help.

"Having a vacant old school building sitting next to them is not good for the community," said Shawn Christ, Moline's land development manager.

Wisconsin-based Gorman & Company is poised to move forward with an $11.5 million project. While still seeking state historic tax credits, it's planning to convert the former school into one and two-bedroom senior apartments.

"I think it's a good location," Christ said.  "It's right on the bus route for residents."

Gorman & Company previously built Moline's Enterprise Lofts and transformed the old Moline High School into loft apartments.

"It really is a neat and special sort of process," said Andre Blakley, Gorman & Company.  "Historic repurposing is really in our DNA."

Developers want to enhance the Moline neighborhood by having it fit in with surrounding homes and businesses.

"I think it will be a nice blend," Christ continued.  "They're not trying to mimic what was there. They're just trying to complement it."

Building plans include a new three-story addition in the former playground. It will become a U-shaped building, and a courtyard entrance will enhance community space.

More than a year after classes ended, Garfield is closer to getting a fresh start. Some former students might be able to live where they once studied.

"It's always kind of interesting to think, okay, who might live in the residences?" Christ concluded.  "Did they go to school there?"

Moline can't wait to find out.

RELATED: Apartment project takes Garfield School from students to seniors