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Quad Cities development leaders update downtown Rock Island project progress

At Monday's city council meeting, a representative from the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce updated aldermen on the project's goals and how it would be funded.

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — For months, development of downtown Rock Island, including the district area, has been a big question mark for area leaders. 

Leaders painted a clearer picture of how they want to breathe new life into that space Monday night.

If you take a walk down 2nd Avenue in downtown Rock Island, you will be accompanied by empty storefronts. Walk a little further, and at the downtown's core is a sign of life.

"I think that downtown Rock Island, because of the river, has the draw of bringing people down," Patricia Belvel said.

Belvel owns Colman Florists and has been a part of the Quad Cities community for her entire life. She said it is important that the community is engaged in the downtown transformation.

"Making it safe, making it something they want to come see, having events here they want to come to, I think that's more important than anything," Belvel said.

Jack Cullen is the downtown Rock Island director with the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.

Cullen said creating a place for everyone to feel welcome and explore is "crucial" for the new downtown space.

Cullen led a presentation at Monday's Rock Island City Council meeting and shared the chamber's proposal for the downtown's new life and how it would be funded.

"(We're) looking at the downtown property owners to contribute about two-thirds and the city and other remaining partners for the other third," Cullen said.

The property owners would pay their share in the form of taxes specifically designated for the development projects if the city approves a "special service area," Cullen said.

That "special service area" would be a tool for property owners in Illinois to fund improvements beyond basic municipal services in a defined geographic area, according to a news release from the Quad Cities Chamber.

The city council did not take any action or make any votes at Monday's meeting. The meeting was simply an opportunity for Cullen to update the council on project progress.

Cullen expects to be back in front of the council sometime in late spring or early summer with more firm data about support for the project. That could be when the city moves forward with more concrete plans, Cullen said.

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Posted by Downtown Rock Island on Monday, October 11, 2021