Moline’s “The Q” on track to enhance passenger rail’s eventual return

MOLINE, Illinois - Developers say they're still confident about passenger rail service resuming between Moline and Chicago. But even without a final assurance, they are moving ahead with construction of the  $35-million multi-modal station and hotel in Moline called The Q.

"This part of the building will be the lobby," said Ray Forsythe, Moline's planning and development director.

Visitors were able to take a sneak peek at the future hotel and station on Tuesday.

"It's exciting," Forsythe continued.  "Now, we just need to get the train here."

Reasons why officials unveiled a logo for the complex they call, "The Q."

The industrial interior of the century-old O'Rourke Building will morph into an extended-stay hotel, restaurants and shopping.

Crews will add a swimming pool, bowling alley, skywalk and more.

Construction, which starts in coming days, should allow the hotel to open in May 2017.

Moline stepped up to keep site work and preparations from stalling during the state budget crisis.

"We wanted to make it a mixed-use building, so that it wouldn't be 100% dependent on the train," Forsythe said.  "But the train is going to add that much more to it."

Illinois is releasing nearly $5 million for this part of the project.

That's triggering its largest purse of public funding so far, with the feds chipping in $10 million.

"As far as the money for the building itself, we have seen that money," said Janet Mathis, Renew Moline.  "That is flowing."

Developers still need Illinois to trigger $177 million to restore Amtrak service between Chicago and Moline.

"The governor's committed to the project," Forsythe said.  "The legislature approved the budget, which that funding is in."

There's still no timetable for service, but 2018 is their best guess.

"It's really good to see that we're going to be able to utilize those federal funds to their best advantage," Mathis said.

The hotel-station project will certainly arrive before the train.

Still, at The Q site, there's confidence about the return of passenger rail.

"It will happen," Mathis concluded.  "It's not as quick as we might have liked, but it will happen."