Experienced developer joins Fountainhead project

Posted Online: Feb. 03, 2013, 6:00 pm
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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com
The newcomer to the River Eagle project to redevelop the former Case-IH factory site in East Moline is a well-known figure in the real estate world.

J. Paul Beitler, of Beitler Real Estate Services LLC, headquartered in Chicago, announced on Wednesday that a pair of hotels and a park will be the first elements of a $150 million development on the 132-acre site.

Mr. Beitler was introduced at an East Moline news conference by members of the The River Eagle group -- Mike VanDeHeede, Matt Stern, Dan Murphy and state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline -- which bought the site in 2010 for $1.5 million.

Their plan to turn it into a $150 million multi-use site with a mix of housing, business, green space and recreational facilities is similar to the one Mr. Beitler described on Wednesday and has been dubbed Fountainhead of the Quad Cities.

Sen. Jacobs said on Friday River Eagle has a really good idea and a good piece of property, but some of the challenges of the project were beyond the group's experience. So they began looking for someone to help them, and as they inquired around, Mr. Beitler's name kept coming up.

"He's a man with a vision and a great deal of experience," Sen. Jacobs said.

Mr. Beitler has been in the real estate business for more than three decades, according to the profile on his company website. Beitler Real Estate Services has managed more than 30 million square feet of building space in 16 states and has developed 10 million square feet.

He has been involved in at least 17 major retail, office or housing projects, according to his website. Many of those are in Chicago, and they include the Museum of Contemporary Art; the Citadel Center, 131 S. Dearborn St.; and the Oakbrook Terrace Tower in Oakbrook.

Mr. Beitler said River Eagle's members are the owners of the project, and his company is playing the role of master developer. It will create and implement the plan for Fountainhead with River Eagle's oversight and carry out the project, including arranging financing and organizing the construction work.

The Fountainhead site is a rare and advantageous find because it is a large, undeveloped riverfront property with good levee protection that also is in a major urban area, he said.

There are no structures left on the property, meaning the designers can place a number of different elements on the site in an organized fashion, Mr. Beitler said.

The surrounding area also has strong businesses, he said.

"Our plan is to not just create a community," Mr. Beitler said. "We want to create a destination location."

The plans include a 250-room Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotel complex that will be about half overnight and half extended stay rooms. There also will be 300 apartments, senior citizen housing, a self-storage facility, a park with a band shell and a sports complex with soccer fields and basketball courts.

Fountainhead is expected to take three to five years to complete and to create about 2,000 construction and permanent jobs, Mr. Beitler said.

Wednesday, the Quad-Cities also was introduced to one of the project architects: Helmut Jahn. He designed the hotel complex.

Mr. Jahn has designed buildings all over the world, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica website. Chicago's State of Illinois Center and the United Airlines Terminal at O'Hare International Airport, as well as the the Twenty-First-Century Tower in Shanghai and the SONY Center in Berlin all are examples of his work.

The Oakbrook Terrace Tower also was designed by Mr. Jahn.

Mr. Jahn said the Fountainhead site is very interesting with the river as a natural element.


Local events heading

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