How history could be the key to bringing life back into downtown Rock Island

ROCK ISLAND-- Let's jump on a trolly and take a trip back in time. Back in the 30's, you couldn't keep people out of downtown Rock Island if you tried.

But now jump in a car and head back to the present.

"People want to see fewer vacant buildings that are falling apart," says Rock Island Alderman Dylan Parker.

It's hard to get anyone to stay.

"We need more major construction projects in downtown Rock Island," says Parker. "If we can get more businesses down here, encourage more developers to develop these places, then we don't have to rely on property taxes which I think everybody wants in Rock Island."

He says the answer is getting the downtown recognized as a national historic landmark. That would mean developers would get 20-percent of their project paid for by federal government tax credits.

"So if we can just say, hey, it's in the District. You can get 20-percent tax credits from the federal government for development. That was easy, yeah, I'll put a business down here. That's the idea," says Parker.

The process is detailed and would take years to make official. And it comes with some fine print.

"You have to retain certain elements of it's historic-ness," says Parker.

But Rock Island leaders think the historic tax credit is the fastest route to a more vibrant future, one much like the past.