After two years of construction, the new YWCA of the Quad Cities plans to open its new two-story, 48,900-square-foot facility this fall at 5th Avenue and 17th Street, Rock Island.

It’s among three major downtown building projects in progress, representing over $47 million in public and private investment. They include the new federal courthouse building (with a not-yet-announced completion date) at 320 18th St., and a new Rock Island-Milan School District administrative center to open in August at 20th Street and 7th Avenue.

A rendering for the new $19-million YWCA in downtown Rock Island.

The YWCA is replacing its 69-year-old facility at 229 16th St., Rock Island. In 2019, it opened the new Iowa Empowerment Center at 1225 E. River Drive, Suite 140, Davenport, and the new Rock Island complex will house a satellite location for those services.

The YWCA helps empower women and families, offering educational programs, childcare, fitness activities, financial literacy, IT and Web training, support for homeless youth, and more to help people reach their potential. Learn more about their programs HERE.

It held a groundbreaking ceremony in downtown Rock Island (at the former Zimmerman Honda site) in September 2021.

“We were so fortunate to be building at the worst time you could ever build a new building,” YWCA president/CEO Julie Larson told this week’s meeting of the Rock Island Kiwanis Club, noting construction should be done in October.

Bush Construction is the general contractor and the YWCA raised $15.4 million. Since groundbreaking, the bids were higher than expected and drove up the project cost, she said.

The new YWCA Quad Cities, at 17th Street and 5th Avenue, Rock Island, seen July 12, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner)

“We looked at different ways to reduce the footprint, but then you had to reduce the scope of services. What do we do to meet our mission?” Larson said, noting they now have a total budget over $19 million, and still have nearly $1 million to raise.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” she said.

The new Y will have three additional childcare rooms and every classroom has a washroom in it, Larson said.

The new childcare center that will expand the organization’s capacity from 130 youth to 350. The entire facility will house an Empowerment Center (including a STEAM lab); an Activity Center with a gymnasium and rock-climbing wall; a full-service kitchen allowing community access; an Aquatic Center; an Administrative Suite; a high-tech Cardio Room, and a modern outdoor play yard.

Unique childcare setup

“One of the really cool things we’re going to be doing at the new facility is have the continuity of care,” Larson said Monday of childcare and pre-K classes. “We will be the only one in the Quad Cities providing this model, and only the second in the state of Illinois.

YWCA president/CEO Julie Larson, right, with Rock Island Kiwanis president Emily Adams at the QC Botanical Center July 10, 2023.

The staff will be connected with the same children, as they age, instead of teachers with infants and toddlers staying with those kids, she said. The teacher will follow the child through the years, up to 5.

“They found this model of childcare really creates a lot of bonds,” she said. “A lot of the families we provide childcare for, their child is there from 6:30 (a.m.) to 5:30 (p.m.), and the caretakers see them more than their family does. This is really a unique model of care. We just visited one toward Chicago, they currently provide.

“We’re really excited and the Regional Office of Education has pushed us to do this for years, and with the new building, we’ll be able to do that,” Larson said.

The new facility will include an expanded swimming pool, with a zero-depth entry (which they don’t have now).

The YWCA annual Race Against Racism, which was scheduled for May 13 at Lindsay Park, had to be postponed due to flooding and it has been rescheduled for October.

New school district center

As the Rock Island-Milan School District has a new interim superintendent, and the first day of school coming up Aug. 3, the new administrative center plans to open next month.

The new $8-million school district administrative center at Rock Island’s 20th Street and 7th Avenue (photo by Jonathan Turner).

The building is 35,000 square feet (including a 18,000-square-foot administration office, 6,000-square-foot production kitchen, and 11,000-square-foot warehouse). The total cost is $8,365,116, and the facility will house approximately 65 employees.

The employees are literally moving across the street from the current admin building to the new building adjacent to the current admin center (2101 6th Ave.), said district spokeswoman Jenna Panicucci. There are no plans yet for the existing center, she said.

Bush Construction is also general contractor for this project.

New federal courthouse

The new 55,000-plus square-foot, three-story federal courthouse building will lease federal government services under a lease provided by the General Services Administration. Those civic services will be from the U.S. District Court, Bankruptcy Courts, and others.

The government has not provided the number of employees expected or opening date at this time, said Kelly Young, vice president of government development for general contractor Russell.

The new federal courthouse, at 4th Avenue and 18th Street, seen on July 12, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

The downtown Rock Island site (across 4th Avenue from the vacant Rock Island Argus building) will be home for the U.S. District Court for the Central Illinois District, which left its old location two blocks away (322 16th St.) in October 2018, and operates out of the federal courthouse in downtown Davenport.

The new building – originally planned to open this year — will have multiple government tenants. In 2014, Davenport-based Russell collaborated with BITCO’s leadership to design and develop a new national headquarters for the century-old organization, which relocated to 3700 Market Square Circle, Davenport.

A rendering of the new federal courthouse being built in downtown Rock Island, at 18th Street and 4th Avenue.

As part of the deal, Russell purchased the original BITCO facility in downtown Rock Island (formerly on the courthouse site) to allow their new $7-million building to be constructed, and sold the original outdated property to an investment group in 2017. Since 2017, the former BITCO facility sat vacant in a state of disrepair, with no possibility of reuse, and it was demolished in fall 2021.

This new project (estimated to cost about $20 million) is owned and developed by Rock Island Investors, Inc., a special purpose entity which includes Russell and KATCO Resources Inc. KATCO Resources, Inc., owned by Mike Fishman and Jeff Eirinberg, with headquarters in Rock Island.