From a second floor condominium in Rock Island's McKesson Lofts one can see boats going into Lock and Dam 15, ball games at Modern Woodmen Park and concerts at what will eventually be the Armory Park.
Wednesday afternoon, the city and Renaissance Rock Island celebrated the grand opening of the three-story, 60,000-square-foot building, which has been under renovation since November 2007. The former warehouse built in 1914 now features 22 condos on the second and third floors with 12,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.
Mike and Joan Fiame, two of the new residential tenants, said they liked the idea for the renovation so much that they committed to the project without actually seeing the building. At the time Mike, who works at the Arsenal, was in Kuwait and Joan was in Chicago.
"We love the view, love the quality of the work," Mike Fiame said.
Joan Fiame said she was promised a little bit of Chicago and is pleased with the result.
"We loved the idea of what it had to offer," she said. "We can walk to The District, to the pubs, there is never a problem with parking."
Joan Fiame said the couple plans to open a new wellness center a couple of blocks from the building in November that will be called Realm. She looks forward to being within close proximity of work.
Another tenant, Anne Johnson, who has yet to move in, has been living at the Clipper Condominiums, which was another downtown residential project sponsored by the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation. She said she likes the view and accessibility of the McKesson Lofts better.
"I think they're fabulous," she said of the McKesson condos. "I have a great view of the river and a balcony."
The condos range in size from 1,200 to 2,300 square feet with prices between $129,900 and $344,500. The balconies were added during the renovation and covered parking is available.
The commercial space includes a shared conference room, a break room, private bath and showers and public restrooms. There is also space for commercial tenants to build out to suit their needs.
Brian Hollenback, president of Renaissance Rock Island, said the renovation capitalized on the building's strengths, which include the view, its exposed concrete pillars and concrete walls.
Mayor Dennis Pauley recalled first touring the building a couple of years ago when there was still broken glass and nails on the floor, and the Armory was still standing across the street, blocking the view of the Mississippi River. He also joked about the riverfront view Davenport residents now have.
"Now that the Armory has been demolished, I encourage you to take a look from the condominiums and the green roof," he said. "If you live in Davenport, you now have one of the best views available as you look across the river."