East Moline’s “Frog Town” starting to take shape

EAST MOLINE, Illinois-- An old factory on 12th Avenue is getting a new purpose in East Moline. A local musician, working with an architecture firm, says the rustic building was the perfect spot for a new music venue.

Work really started six months ago on the Rust Belt. Local musician and booker for the venue Sean Moeller says it's going to be a unique space.

"This venue's gonna be one of a kind in this area," he says. "There's really nothing of this size, of this magnitude between here and Chicago."

The indoor venue can accommodate 5,000 people. Moeller says a curtain will be hung that could split the room up for smaller shows.

"Hopefully, we're gonna bring all those names that people have to drive hours to go see," he says.

The Bend Event Center is set to open in June 2019. It's already booked for most of 2019.

He couldn't give a sneak peek of the artists on his list since nothing has been set in stone yet.

Moeller says the rustic look of the former automobile factory and metal company was perfect for the music scene.

"It's kind of serendipitous that this building has been sitting here for decades and really it's absolutely ideal for what we want to do," he says. "This building probably would have been torn down at some point... I'm really glad we were able to save this one."

The Rust Belt is the first thing going into "Frog Town," the complex taking shape in the old building.

"I just love the rustic feel," says Cameo Losasso, the operations manager for Frog Town. "I love the fact that we're bringing back to life an old building."

Losasso says Frog Town was chosen for the name because of the frogs that used to live in the swampy areas of the city.

A common area connects the Rust Belt to the rest of Frog Town. That area will eventually be filled with arcade games. Walls are going up for a new brewery called Midwest Ale Works.

The Riverbend Commons is costing $10 million to build. The luxury apartments are planned to overlook the Mississippi River.

Foundation CrossFit is moving into the building with space planned for a restaurant next to it.

Streamline Architects and Artisans is moving into the building. Its also opening a coffee shop where the artisans will sell custom-made furniture.

"They'll have a coffee shop that you can sit down, have a cup of coffee and the table will have a tag on it," Losasso explains. "And you can get a cup of coffee and a table if you'd like."

Construction is picking up speed as the nearby Bend Hotel opened last week. It's part of major investments in the city of East Moline.

"East Moline was definitely the hot spot at one time," Losasso says. "But that was a while ago. I feel like it's its time again.

"When people think of East Moline, there's nothing that has really been a driving force to get people over here. So I definitely think when people are looking for something to do, we'll be at the top of their list."

Outside the Frog Town complex, crews are about to break ground on several other projects.

The Riverbend Commons, luxury apartments, will be going up near the Bend Hotel in the next few weeks. The Bend Event Center will also break ground soon along with a new restaurant, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Rust Belt is planning its first shows for February. Other businesses within Frog Town will move in and open throughout the spring and summer.

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