Development plans for Moline’s multi-modal facility hit a speed bump Friday, but the message from one of the chief proponents is that passenger rail service between the Quad-Cities and Chicago remains on track.
“Rail is still coming,” Paul Rumler, executive vice president of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, said Friday night. He has been a longtime advocate of expanded rail service in the Quad-Cities.
The speed bump came in the form of an announcement by Restoration St. Louis, the company behind several high-profile renovation projects in Davenport — including the Hotel Blackhawk — that it was withdrawing from the private portion of the Moline project.
Restoration St. Louis had indicated its intent in April to develop Moline’s historic O’Rourke Building, where the multi-modal facility is to be located.
In a news release Friday, Restoration St. Louis principal Amy Gill said, “Every great project depends on a mix of good ideas, location and timing to turn out right. Take away one of those and nothing successful can happen.
“I have a great deal of respect for Moline and its public development partners for attempting to do something wonderful on this site,” she said. “Unfortunately, all of the pieces could not come together to make a project of this size a reality.”
The conceptual plan for the O’Rourke Building included converting the upper five stories into apartments while the multi-modal facility would be located on the first floor. Also, a 150-room, three- or four-star hotel to be owned by Restoration St. Louis and operated by Innkeeper Hospitality Services LLC was to be located on the east end of a triangular-shaped parcel of land to the east of the O’Rourke Building.
Rumler said that despite the decision by Restoration St. Louis, he has confidence in the future of rail service.
“When MetroLINK received its Top Transit award three weeks ago, the director of the Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation for the Illinois DOT was speaking and he said rail is progressing,” Rumler said.
“He said they are completing all of the final design and engineering work right now with building expected to begin sometime in the spring or early summer with the expectation of operating rail service beginning in early 2015.
“That would seem to give us ample opportunity to figure out what to do with the station.”
Earlier this week, Restoration St. Louis announced its interest in another downtown Davenport project.
In conjunction with the city’s proposed purchase of the Rhythm City casino, Gill said Thursday she and her husband, Amrit, plan to submit a proposal for a casino, restaurant and grocery store. She added that they have been working with a casino consultant and have a property under contract.
The Davenport City Council will vote next week on approving a $46 million term sheet for the purchase of the Rhythm City from Isle of Capri.
In addition to renovating the Hotel Blackhawk, Restoration St. Louis has rehabbed the Forrest Block and the Renwick Building in downtown Davenport.