Moline's last railroad depot will be demolished after a 5-to-2 vote by aldermen Tuesday against its relocation. |
"I think the city is losing a very import icon, a historical property that could of been put to good use by (Western Illinois) university," said Barb Sandberg, chairman of the Moline Historic Preservation Commission.
The 112-year-old Davenport, Rock Island & Northwestern depot is in the way of the planned new Interstate 74 bridge. The Illinois Department of Transportation offered to pay up to $1 million to help move the depot to the Western Illinois University Quad Cities Riverfront campus, including $140,000 to Moline for the land.
IDOT also wanted Moline to contribute to the depot's move and re-use. After three months of research and cost estimates, the Moline Historic Preservation Commission whittled that cost down to $155,000.
On Tuesday, city administrator Lew Steinbrecher asked aldermen to decide either to sell the property as is, letting the state demolish the depot, or sell it with the intent to move the depot. If aldermen chose relocation, they also would have to decide how much of the IDOT money to put toward the move.
Ms. Sandberg told aldermen the commission would raise $35,000 for the move if the city put the $140,000 from IDOT toward it. Two people and an organization already had pledged $15,000, she said, leaving the commission with $20,000 to raise.
Mr. Steinbrecher said the IDOT money would go into the city's general fund if not used to move the depot.
"I am having a hard time with this one," said Ald. Sean Liddell, 7th Ward. He noted finances have forced the city to lay off workers and raise taxes and fees. The state is broke, he said, but willing to spend $1 million to buy land and move a building.
"If WIU wants the building, I think they should pay for it," he said. He added it would be irresponsible to waste the opportunity to put $140,000 into Moline's general fund, money that could be used to pay down the city's unfunded pension liability or amenities on the new I-74 bridge the city has agreed to fund.
Alds. Scott Raes, 3rd Ward, and Lori Turner, 5th Ward, voted to relocate the depot. Alds. Liddell, John Knaack, 1st Ward; Ted Ronk, 4th Ward; Kevin Schoonmaker, 6th Ward; and Stephanie Acri, At-Large; voted against moving it.
Ms. Sandberg said the commission did not believe it had enough time to raise all the money needed, with Phase II of the WIU campus construction is scheduled to start this fall.
"We certainly would have tried, had we had more time," she said.
The commission worked three years on the depot's relocation. "We took a step forward, and another step forward," she said. "I am sorry to say this time we took a step back."
Also on Tuesday, Ray Forsythe, Moline's planning and development director, was instructed to begin drafting a development agreement with Genesis Health System to include a financial incentive for Phase I of a wellness campus west of 41st Street across from 28th Avenue.
Aldermen voted 4-3 for a proposed rebate to Genesis of no more than $1.55 million, or 15 percent of the project costs. Alds. Schoonmaker, Liddell, and Acri did not vote for the incentive, saying they wanted specifics on the additional construction costs and how the rebate would lower rent on the planned office space by $8 a square foot.
"The timeline on how things are happening do not seem to be in order," Ald. Schoonmaker said. "It feels pushed."
Phase I -- expected to cost $10.3 million -- includes a 50,000-square-foot building, a 250-space parking lot, landscaping, storm water detention, water and sewer infrastructure and traffic improvements to 41st Street. According to Genesis, the building would hold Class A medical office space for 11 physicians, a FirstMed pharmacy, a convenient care facility and durable medical equipment retail space.
The city has agreed to complete designating the site as a tax increment finance district. In a TIF, the assessed land value is frozen. When development occurs and the assessment increases, all new property tax increment is captured by the city. It can be used to make improvements within the district or to give rebates to developers.
Mr. Forsythe said Genesis is facing higher-than-normal construction costs because the site used to be a landfill.
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