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Outdoor amphitheatre, riverfront park and shops proposed for land near I-74 bridge in Moline
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Outdoor amphitheatre, riverfront park and shops proposed for land near I-74 bridge in Moline

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An outdoor amphitheater, shops, restaurants, a skatepark, ice skating rink, zip line and fire pits with seating are just some of the ideas for redevelopment of the 13.5 acres the city of Moline will reclaim after the old Interstate 74 bridge is demolished. 

Renew Moline, a nonprofit economic development organization, has been working with Moline to survey the public on uses for the waterfront property. Renew Moline in turn sought help from The Urban Land Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that offers consulting on land development.

Alexandra Elias, CEO and president of Renew Moline, held a public survey meeting Wednesday, asking participants their thoughts on what to do with the reclaimed land and to rank the ideas presented by the Urban Land Institute in their 44-page report completed in August. 

"Since then, we have been seeking public input on these concepts," Elias said. "There are some secondary areas that are likely to be developed," Elias said. 

Renew Moline has been collecting ideas from residents through a public survey since Sept. 17. The last day to take the survey and submit ideas is Oct. 8. 

"How can we create one downtown environment in spite of the fact this new bridge, in a lot of ways, cuts off some key streets in a way that it didn't before," Elias said. "We didn't want to feel like we had a bifurcated downtown. That unity of downtown was really important to us.

"And all with a theme of doing this once and doing it well. This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really rethink, what is our downtown front porch to our community?"

The Urban Land Institute's report includes the creation of a neighborhood called the "Mill Town Basin" at the heart of the development. Within the neighborhood will be a four-story building to be called Mill Town Housing, comprised of apartments and townhouses; the Mill Town Basin, which will feature shops, restaurants, kiosks, an outdoor amphitheater, an ice skating rink, fire pits with seating; a Great Riverfront Park that features expanded walking trails with a water taxi dock; and a water spout that shoots 200 to 400 feet into the air. 

Elias said including a residential component with construction of the Mill Town Neighborhood comprised of townhouses and apartments will help connect the areas. 

"The more people you have walking back and forth, the more successful your downtown feels," Elias said. "That became the basis of this Mill Town Neighborhood, as they called it. Mill Town was the name (Urban Land Institute) came up with. It doesn't mean we are renaming our downtown. It was an organizing feature they thought of."

The Spiegel building, built in 1928-1930, will remain standing and be incorporated into the development plans. Situated between the base of the existing Interstate 74 bridge and construction on the new span, the four-story brick structure was originally the Eagle Signal Building and then became the home of Spiegel Moving & Storage for about 50 years.

The Spiegel building could be the "Heart of the Arts" showpiece and feature galleries, maker space, residential units for artists, and a rooftop bar and restaurant.

"None of these ideas are set in stone, but to form the basis of our public discussion," Elias said. 

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