Rock Island’s College Hill District adds variety to neighborhood

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The College Hill District is a destination on the move in Rock Island. Its two sections along 14th Avenue near Augustana College feature an eclectic blend of retail and restaurants. It helps to connect the campus and community.

"It's not just about potential for growth, but potential to utilize what we already have and make it better," said Annette Zapolis, business owner and president of the district's association.

Zapolis should know. The Augustana graduate opened Cool Beanz Coffee House in 2009. There's a vibrant buzz inside the colorful business. It's something that helps to anchor a neighborhood while creating features for families.

"It's nice to find all of the different new businesses have that spark and are joining our organization," she said.

Those business will be featured from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday. That's when the College Hill District hosts its Holiday Walk. There will be a variety of activities and fun for families to enjoy.

Dave Requet is getting into the spirit by decorating his business. Gendler's Wine and Spirits opened here in July. There's also his Black Ram restuarant. It's in a location that has a family connection dating back for decades.

"Up here, they stroll the sidewalk and storefronts," he said. "That's great for an area."

While the College Hill District officially started just last year, it's aiming for the future by creating its own identity.

That's the case at Vintage Rose Antiques. It's just the right combination for visiting shoppers and neighborhood folks. It brings home the concept of what College Hill is all about.

"It's not so much about selling items," said Eric Adcock, another Augustana grad working in the store. "It's about having people come together, talk and get to know each other."

In Rock Island, it's a destination with design.