The view from the sixth floor of what will become a nine-story Hyatt hotel brings all the Quad-Cities into sight up and down the river.
And it also brings East Moline's future into focus.
The co-branded Hyatt House and Hyatt Place, now under construction, will anchor The Bend on the Mighty Mississippi mixed-use development.
The $40 million, 233-room hotel will include the 134-room Hyatt Place and an 99-room extended-stay Hyatt House. It's Hyatt's first co-branded hotel. But as it rises out of the ashes of the former Case IH (CNH) plant, other projects there now are headed to the starting line.
Site work has begun on a 88-unit apartment complex, which will be the first of three apartment buildings. Plans are finalized for a reception hall to host 600 guests and border a 3.1-acre park. In addition, developers are waiting to close on an agreement for a convenience store to be built along the 12th Avenue frontage.
"It's going to be its own town," said Mike VanDeHeede, managing partner of Great River Property Development, The Bend's developer. "Right now, we are the largest ground-up development project west of Chicago in Illinois."
He said it also is the largest piece of flood-controlled land along the Mississippi River with 143 acres protected behind a floodwall.
Also advancing are plans for two retail centers that will flank the entrance off 12th Avenue, which becomes River Drive in neighboring Moline. VanDeHeede would not identify tenants but said it will include two restaurants.
The convenience store, which he said is a local company, marks a milestone in that it is the first project to be developed by someone outside of the ownership group.
Great River is led by president and CEO Dan Murphy, a Silvis native and former owner of Precision Pipeline. The three apartments buildings, which are another piece of The Bend project, are being developed by the owner of East Moline Glass, who also is spearheading the retail centers and reception hall.
"Once the hotel started going up, people started getting excited," VanDeHeede said during a tour of the site last week. "They're starting to believe now. We've done everything we promised to do."
The Hyatt was designed by Legat Architects, with an office in Moline, and is being built by Davenport-based Russell. The apartments, reception hall and retail centers are being designed by Architect Andrew Dasso of [design] [build] in Davenport, and will be built by Build-to-Suit, Bettendorf.
The hotel already has five events booked for the fall, VanDeHeede said. "Two of them have reserved the whole hotel for a whole week."
He said Olympia Hotel Management is managing both the hotel and reception hall. "They're already on the scene marketing the hotel to the usual suspects, John Deere, Kone, the Rock Island Arsenal," he said.
The hotel is expected to open in late summer of 2018 along with the reception hall. The apartment building is expected to open in June.
VanDeHeede said so far the hotel construction is on time and on budget. He added that all the workers on the hotel are union labor and local subcontractors.
"This is a very important project," said Matt Gliniecki, field manager for general contractor Russell. "This is the first time Hyatt has put those two brands together in the same building."
Between Russell's crew and the subcontractors, he said there can be as many as 100 construction workers on site. "When we top out — once it's all enclosed — there will be 200 a day here."
Gliniecki said the seventh floor deck will be poured later this week with two more floors to go after that. The ninth floor will house a glass-enclosed skybar/restaurant with seating for 100. Besides its unique river view, it will be prime viewing for the new Interstate 74 bridge, he said.
On the floors below, workers now are busy roughing in the walls as well as the plumbing, electrical and HVAC. Windows should arrive in about two weeks. The roof is expected to be poured in early March.
"We've been very very fortunate weather-wise," he said of the unseasonably warm weather.
But the winds have not been as pleasant as crews tangle with the gusts from working up so high as well as alongside the river. "So much hinges on us being able to swing material on a crane," Gliniecki said, adding that high gusts recently shut down production for three days.
While orchestrating all the different trades can have its challenges, Gliniecki said "There are times we're running into each other but most of us have experience working with one another on other jobs."
"Everybody is interested in what's best for the project not just what best for them," he added.
For the city of East Moline, the Bend represents a new start for the sprawling property that once employed generations of manufacturing workers, who built "Big Red" combines for Case IH, later CNH. The plant closed in 2004.
"First and foremost, it gives us our first hotel," said East Moline Mayor Reggie Freeman. "Silvis has one ... We have nay."
That means addition revenues from hotel/motel tax receipts, increased tax value and more visitors to the city.
"With the apartments going in, we'll be increasing our population again," the first-term mayor said. Freeman also is confident that transforming the once barren industrial site will draw other developers to The Bend and East Moline.
He also hopes The Bend will spur new life in the downtown area. "We're trying to spruce it up and being some energy back to East Moline."
The city has committed $10.25 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, monies to reimburse the developer for the costs of the roads and other infrastructure. It will receive $6.2 million for the first phase.
VanDeHeede credited the cooperation of the city staff, city council and Freeman. "Reggie (Freeman) is very aggressive. He knows exactly what it's going to take to bring people back to East Moline," he added.
"In attempting to bring future development in East Moline, they (the city) have been way more aggressive than they've ever been. So now we can compete with Moline and Bettendorf in bringing in development."
Next spring, Great River will begin presenting the city with designs for the second phase of the project, he added. "It's three times the acreage so it will take even longer to fill in."
But plans already call for a high-end condominium complex and a senior living complex, which will begin construction after the hotel opens.
For Gliniecki, who joined Russell two years ago, the Hyatt project draws on his 20 years of hotel building experience. This is his first Hyatt to build.
"What's exciting is being on the front end of this development," he said. "It's an incredible piece of property. I hope it is the stimulus to jumpstart the economy."
He never loses sight that the same ground once employed thousands of workers. "East Moline doesn't have it anymore. We're bringing the community something that is going to pay taxes, employ people and help everybody."
"We're re-energizing it into something viable in today's economy,'' Gliniecki said. "You had a dead space sitting here doing nothing for anyone. It's going to pump a little life back into East Moline."