Breaking News
More () »

A downtown zipline? A giant water spout? It's what one consulting firm wants in Moline.

The Urban Land Institute has released their report, detailing a bold new plan to revitalize Moline's downtown district.

MOLINE, Ill. — The nonprofit consulting firm, Urban Land Institute (ULI), has revealed a bold new plan to revitalize and reimagine Moline's downtown, complete with a zipline, riverfront restaurants, a water spout and more. 

Over two years ago, the firm was asked to study Moline and come up with a comprehensive strategy to tackle issues such as underutilized spaces and vacant office buildings. ULI specializes in examining town's development gaps and coming up with creative, long-lasting solutions. 

In Moline, they focused heavily on the area by the old I-74 bridge, as well as the Fifth Avenue and River Drive corridors. ULI found Moline's downtown needed three vital components: more riverfront activities, more urban housing, and a bigger emphasis on public art. 

Above everything else, plans for a downtown park - with a big splash - is key, and should be addressed first, according to ULI. The "Great River Park" would connect people to the waterfront and feature active green spaces, a basin, and a 200-400 foot water spout visible to travelers along I-74. 

Credit: Urban Land Institute
Urban Land Institute's Mill Town Neighborhood proposal

The area around the park is being referred to as the "Mill Town Neighborhood," and would include affordable housing, bike trails, basketball and tennis courts, waterfront restaurants and even a zip line from the old Kone Tower. 

But the report goes even further, giving ideas for where to put housing units, what sort of shops and restaurants should be invited in, and who development should be built around (spoiler: two big players are the TaxSlayer Center and the John Deere Pavilion). 

Of course, these are all just recommendations. Moline doesn't have to follow any of these, nor will construction begin anytime soon. However, the report is a guideline of recommendations that Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati says the city will use as an additional roadmap. 

"We can now start moving forward with all of the pieces that we need to start getting things ready for developers," she told News 8. "It is very exciting to have that other guide in place as we use the strategic plan to work together as a council with our city staff and our community partners, to make sure we are creating something that helps Moline grow."

RELATED: Public emotions boiled over as Rockridge's school board voted to mandate masks

Part of the report did touch on a perceived disconnect between City Hall and the citizens of Moline. 

"The panel's perception is the community is dysfunctional," it reads. "It needs to build up a culture of project management and a stable development environment. A cohesive vision between the political and civic leadership does not exist to undertake such a bold and complex program of development that will play out over 10 years." 

Throughout the report, ULI points to key vacancies within Moline's government as a large part of that problem. Specifically, it found the city's lack of an Economic Development Director to be troubling. 

In response, Mayor Rayapati, who was not in office for the majority of the ULI's study, said good leadership requires planning. 

"I always look forward, try not to look backward," she said. "Having the right staff in place is always key. And then those staff help us all create the relationships we need to get those jobs done." 

The mayor added that many open positions at City Hall are being actively pursued right now, although she did not give a timeline or specifics for which positions those might be. When new City Administrator Bob Vitas began his job at Moline, he estimated it could be a year before the Economic Development Director role is filled. 

RELATED: Louisa County proposes a water pipeline from Muscatine

Still, the city says they're moving forward with positive relationships and partners, including Renew Moline - a vital piece in ULI's report. 

"I think there are big ideas in there," said Alexandra Elias, Renew Moline CEO. "We're very excited about the range of opportunities that are identified here." 

In the report, ULI suggests Renew Moline take on a larger role in the planning and implementation of Moline's downtown revival. Specifically, it said the organization should take on project management positions throughout the development process. 

"Creating places that people want to be is sort of where our focus is," said Elias. "So the use, whether it's office or retail or a restaurant is kind of less important and more important to think about why people are there and making this space that they're in."

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out