The building across from Moline's King Plaza never was a handsome structure.

It started out the wrong green, and it fell into disrepair a long time ago.

The mutli-story building at Avenue of the Cities and 37th Street served primarily as doctors' offices over the years. It also had a stint as a bank, according to the current owner.

Chris Ontiveros, owner of the Ray'z Barber Shop chain, bought the homely building and recently had it razed. It resided just west of his Ray'z Barber & Styling College, and Ontiveros says he currently has no plans for the property. He decided to tear it down to improve the overall appearance of the neighborhood, he said.

Good call.

Also on Moline's Avenue of the City — this one at 27th Street — developer Dan Dolan's renovation of the former Aldi grocery store is nearly complete.

"We're about to start the build-out for the first tenant," he said, adding the first business to occupy the space will be a video-gaming parlor.

"We're just finishing up, so we're looking for tenants," he said.

Also on the long-neglected property is a cleared site, formerly the home of the Forest Hill gas station.

"That's six thousand square feet, and the location has available drive-up," Dolan said.

The site has been vacant for more than a decade. The underground fuel tanks were removed long ago, but the high-traffic intersection somehow continued to elude prosperity. Some business owners on the Avenue have been critical of the city for seemingly favoring other commercial areas, including John Deere Road, the downtown and the SouthPark Mall area.

But Moline's planning and development director, Ray Forsythe, pointed out the city's continued investment in the Avenue. Specifically, he noted the new decorative paving, sidewalks and street lights have been completed from 36th to 41st street, which was the second phase of the updates.

"Both of those projects are nice changes to Avenue of the Cities, as it shows an interest by the private sector," Forsythe said of the Dolan and Ontiveros projects.

The city's interest also is ongoing.

A ribbon cutting in January will include an announcement, regarding the city's pick for a company to conduct a $100,000 Transportation and Economic Development Plan for Avenue of the Cities, Forsythe said.

"It will be a plan similar to those we have developed for Moline’s riverfront neighborhoods," he wrote in an email. "We will be utilizing this plan to formulate future land use and transportation initiatives.

"That (Avenue of the Cities) corridor is in the center of Moline, heavily used by vehicles and public transportation and has several junior and big box stores, including Hy-Vee, Aldi, Walgreens and CVS. In addition, many restaurants and other retail, commercial and office users, plus Moline High School, Roosevelt and Coolidge.

"This provides challenges and opportunities for development and transportation. We look forward to working with the business and property owners to formulate a usable plan."

While we're planning, somebody needs to get on the horn with Keith Kinsey, CEO of Portillo's. The Moline native is running the Chicago-area restaurant chain, famous for its hot dogs and beef sandwiches. In a profile by Chicago media, Kinsey told of "cruisin' down 23rd Avenue" with the girl who became his wife. Of course, 23rd Avenue became Avenue of the Cities, and it now contains at least two spots that would be perfect for Portillo's.

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