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COMING SOON: A Look at Downtown Rock Island Past, Present, and Future

There is a lot going on in Downtown Rock Island - from big ideas to small businesses
Credit: WQAD

There's 175 years of history in Downtown Rock Island, but it's time to start thinking about the next 175 years.

In October 2021, Downtown Rock Island Director Jack Cullen presented a proposal to the Rock Island City Council to bring new life and a new look to the area. One of the ideas is Arts Alley:

Credit: Streamline Architects

This project includes painting crosswalks, showcasing artist murals, creating a backdrop of performances, and more:

Credit: Streamline Architects

Another idea is updating the Great River Plaza, which is the pedestrian mall about one block away from Arts Alley on 2nd Avenue. Cullen says the city and property owners are putting together designs to modernize this area as well:

Credit: WQAD

To make these two ideas a reality - and complete other projects downtown - a new group is being proposed. It's called a "place management organization" and it's similar to the Downtown Davenport Partnership or Moline Centre. This group would provide special services such as business attraction and retention, routine beautification, destination marketing, and enhanced public safety in Downtown Rock Island. 

In the meantime, more businesses are opening in Downtown Rock Island:

Refined Fit Lab, 313 20th Street, is a fully-equipped personal training studio. They're going to offer one-on-one training sessions, couples training, group classes, and wellness workshops. They'll also have snacks and beverages for anyone wanting to stop in for a quick - and healthy - pick me up. Refined Fit Lab is hoping to be up and running by December 1st, 2021.

American Bank & Trust, 1600 5th Avenue, is expected to hold an official grand opening sometime in November 2021. The drive-up windows are already open, though.

Blue Cat Brewing Company, 113 18th Street, is reopening on Friday, November 5th, 2021. Four years ago, it was sold and rebranded as Big Swing Brewing. Now, well-known Quad Cities Brewer Charlie Cole has joined the owners to resurrect the classic award-winning Blue Cat beer recipes and add some of his own creations to the menu.  

• The QC Farmers' Market is now closed for the season, but opened its physical location in Schwiebert Riverfront Park in August 2021 after starting online in May 2020, during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Just Beachy Home, 1700 2nd Avenue, is a furniture/home decor shop that opened in September 2021 next to Brick and Mortar Boutique.

The Attic, 323 18th Street, is a discount retail store that opened in October 2021.

Cool Beanz Coffeehouse, 512 24th Street, moved from Rock Island's College Hill District to Downtown Rock Island in May 2021, next to Bent River Brewing Company.

There are also some big developments taking place in Downtown Rock Island:

A $20M+ federal courthouse is being built at 320 18th Street, the former site of BITCO Insurance Companies. The structure will be torn down and rebuilt to house three government tenants - including the courthouse for the U.S. District Court for Illinois' Central District, which is currently in Davenport. Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2021 and be done in late 2022 or early 2023.

YWCA Quad Cities is building a $13M facility at 1702-1704 5th Avenue. They broke ground in September 2021 and the building is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

For more on what's going on in Downtown Rock Island, click here.