With downtown Moline on the threshold of another development explosion, Sanjeev Pal decided to get in on the ground floor — literally — with a new convenience store.

Pal opened Moline Pantry on the first floor of the Enterprise Live-Work Lofts, a 69-unit apartment complex that opened in spring 2012 at the corner of 19th Street and River Drive.

Pal, the owner of two Gasland convenience stores in Moline, said he was encouraged to open the store by his existing customers and downtown economic development representatives.

The store occupies a commercial space created as part of the Enterprise Lofts, a $12.7 million project developed by Madison-based Gorman & Co.

A spacious 2,800 square feet, Moline Pantry has a trendy atmosphere with its high, exposed ceilings and brightly colored walls. Students at Midwest Technical Institute, Moline, installed the wall panels that cover a walk-in cooler. “They came as a project for school and got credit for doing the work,” he said.

Among his new customers is Enterprise Lofts resident Kyle Burke, who is Renew Moline’s marketing and program assistant. “We were going pretty far (for grocery items) prior to the store being there,” he said, adding that he would cross the Mississippi River for a quick grocery run.

The new store offers snacks, pop, beer, juices and soon will have an expanded dairy section and frozen meal items.

Pal said Enterprise Lofts’ residents have their own interior door to the shop, which they can access with their keycards. “They don’t even have to go outside to come in,” he said.

With two new hotels, more development at Western Illinois University-Quad-Cities campus and the new passenger rail station all headed for downtown Moline, Pal is confident about the prospects for the new store. It eventually will employ three people.

“It’s certainly going to help keep people downtown, which is what we want,” Burke said.

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