Moline historic preservationists got a look at the future Tuesday as they toured The Q — Moline's multi-modal station and Element hotel — as the next phase of construction is about to begin.
More than two dozen members of the Moline Historic Preservation Commission joined Renew Moline, MetroLINK, city representatives and hotel developer The Amin Group for a walk-through of the former O'Rourke Building. The former Sears warehouse, located at 1202 4th Ave., is being converted into the future Amtrak station and extended-stay hotel.
Developer Mike Amin said construction on the hotel side of the project will begin "quickly" after the final agreements are signed with the city next week. Russell Construction is building out the 96-room hotel. Legat Architects has done the design work.
"Now the heavy lifting begins" with the hotel's actual construction, he said. "I want to be open before the John Deere Classic next year if not sooner."
The $35 million project, which has private investment as well as funding from the city, state and federal governments and agencies, "has been a chore,'' he said. "It's been difficult because there are so many moving parts and partners."
The tour was held as part of a meeting by Renew Moline's Design Built Management Team, which works privately with downtown developers on design. But in order to update the Moline Historic Preservation Committee on the project, the group and the media were invited to attend.
The gathering also included the unveiling of a new logo for The Q, the name given to the entire development.
Ray Forsythe, Moline's planning and development director, led the group on the tour of the century-old warehouse, pointing out where the train station would be as well as the amenities of the future hotel. The Amin Group, which also owns the nearby Radisson on John Deere Commons, will build The Element by Starwood.
Amin said the hotel will include 15,000 square feet of retail space that will cater to the hotel guests and train passengers. It could include as many as three small restaurants and other retail. The hotel also will have its own restaurant.
In addition, the hotel will offer an entertainment area with a bowling alley and other activities in the basement, open to the public. The site's grassy area, shaped like a triangle and located to the east, will become a park area.
During the tour, Barb Sandberg, former chair of the preservation commission, described the project as "a vision."
"This is visionary people seeing outside the box. They've taken something plain and it's going to be elegant."
That end of downtown, she added "needed a boost."
"We've seen major changes downtown and they've gone piece by piece. We've gone through many stops and starts and I think we're over the hump.''
Janet Mathis, Renew's CEO/president, said there has been many details and discussions for several years "to get to the product we all agreed to."
The hotel will include both construction in the historic building as well as a brand new addition on the now one-story building. It will be three stories in the front and four in the rear (north).
Forsythe discussed how certain features, including the concrete support pillars, windows and some original architecture, were of concern with historic agencies during the various levels of approval.
Soon, "new windows will begin to be punched out" on the east side of the building to match the historic ones, he said.
The Grand Hall, which will be the gathering place for train passengers, will be on the building's east side. Forsythe said the atrium-like addition will have a waiting area that also can be used for special events. Its design, he said "makes it look like a train station."
But the question on everybody's mind about when the train will arrive was one for which he did not have an answer. Funding is dependent on action in the Illinois General Assembly.
"The station will be finished to accept the train when it gets here," Forsythe said, adding there is no new update. "It is in the budget, but the state is working on their part."
However, he said construction of the entire building should be complete between March and May 2017.
In fact, as Renew Moline and preservation members met afterward, they were told by Matt Patel, Amin's business partner, "We hope to have heads on beds by the first week of May for the hotel part. It's a very aggressive schedule."
Patel provided more details on the hotel's particulars and amenities. One feature warmly accepted was a planned photographic mural of old Moline — from when the nearby riverfront was home to all manufacturing plants. It will cover a wall inside an open corridor between the old building and the new part.