Rock Island seeks bigger economic victories

4 The Record

New federal courthouse is a plus, no sign of developing old Watch Tower Plaza

Rock Island’s economic victories have been small in comparison to the other Quad Cities.

New businesses that opened in the Quad Cities recently tend to be small rather than larger operations that need a lot of employees.

The District of Rock Island, once a vibrant section of the Quad Cities, has been relatively quiet since the pandemic started.

Some nightlife from the theaters picked up in recent weeks, but it’s a far cry from what it used to be.

The city’s biggest win lately is the commitment to build a new building that will be home to the federal courthouse. demolition of the old Bituminous Insurance building is virtually done.

The building is down, but the land needs to be cleared before construction can start. It’s expected to be a decent revenue generator for Rock Island.

Rock Island is still waiting on the Watch Tower, which doesn’t seem close to being a revenue generator. The old shopping center on 11th Street remains a vacant plot of land.

The city spent $15 million to clear the property and make it shovel-ready for a developer several years ago. The original hope was for Walmart to open a store, but that deal fell through five years ago, and no other investor has taken the bait since then.

City leaders say different parties have expressed interest.

Mayor Mike Thoms starts the conversation with us this afternoon.

About the Watch Tower area, he says “There’s no dotted line signed at this point. We are talking to a developer that is still investigating his plans there, and making sure it’s all viable.”

Hear what else the mayor has to say in the video.

Now to our question of the week. We’ll call it our New Year’s resolution version. What hopes, dreams and wishes do you have for the Quad Cities in 2022? Share your thoughts at 4therecord@whbf.com.

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