The city of Moline is celebrating passage of a bill that will give the city first rights to purchase several acres of riverfront land that will become available when the old Interstate 74 bridge is torn down.
House Bill 5205 was signed into law by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday. The legislation gives municipalities in Illinois the right to obtain excess property not needed by the Illinois Department of Transportation for highway projects.
Sponsored by State Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, HB5205 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
“This has been a collaborative effort between the city of Moline, Illinois Department of Transportation, Renew Moline and the state of Illinois’ General Assembly,” Halpin said. “It will ultimately bring new jobs and new investment to this entire Quad-Cities area. I’m very much looking forward to that.”
About 13.5 acres will become available underneath and around the old I-74 bridge, but the land is divided into 16 separate and disconnected parcels.
Renew Moline, a nonprofit economic development organization, worked with the Urban Land Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that offers consulting on land development, to design concepts and uses for the waterfront property over a period of several months.
“I’m excited about what they have in store for the future knowing this is now a possibility,” Halpin said. “When we have a major infrastructure project like the I-74 bridge, it’s important that we make sure its local governments have the tools to develop property when that project is completed.”
The primary idea for the reclaimed land includes a shopping and recreational area to be called Mill Town Basin, which will be located west of the new I-74 bridge and feature an outdoor amphitheater, shops, restaurants, a skatepark, ice skating rink and fire pits with seating.
Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati said ideas for a proposed zip line and giant water spout were “not endorsed” by council members in January, but said the city welcomes feedback from the community on ideas for the available land.
“Having the ability to secure excess property not needed for the I-74 bridge allows us to plan effectively for redevelopment of that area,” Rayapati said. “Some property will be used to create beautiful public spaces and connections to our riverfront, others will be assembled in partnership with others for private development.
“All of it will be in cooperation with the community who has been so generous with their time in helping provide input and ideas on Moline’s future vision.”
Alexandra Elias, CEO and president of Renew Moline, expressed her gratitude for Halpin’s bill and the benefit it provides to Moline. Prior to the bill, Elias said excess property owned by the state of Illinois would be offered in a public sale.
“Offering the property to local government first gives the city the certainty that it can implement the vision endorsed by the community,” Elias said.
“This type of opportunity doesn’t come around for downtowns very often,” Halpin said. “This is a lot of open space right in the heart of downtown and the city has the ability to shape its own vision. Most cities don’t get that opportunity these days. The city and Renew Moline have done everything they can to be prepared for this very moment.”
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June 1, 2022 at 06:48PM