Welcome to the Quad-Cities -- QCQ&A
Progress 2010 Page

List of Advertisers

Proposed E.M. riverfront project would bring jobs
Comment on this story
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Shive-Hattery
This rendering shows what developers hope to bring to East Moline if their plan to transform the former Case New Holland site into a riverfront destination becomes reality.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Shive-Hattery
Developers plan to transform the former Case New Holland site in East Moline into a riverfront destination. The plan calls for a hotel, boardwalk, a technical center, and housing for seniors and college students.
EAST MOLINE -- A plan to transorman abandoned industrial site into a buzzing riverfront destination would bring hundreds of jobs to the area, according to the site developers.

A group called River Eagle Investment LLC -- Quad-Citians Mike Jacobs, Frank Coyle, Mike VanDeHeede and Matt Stern and former Quad-Citian Dan Murphy of Eau Claire, Wis. -- paid $1.5 million for 132 acres of the former Case-New Holland site, once home to an enormous combine factory.

The five plan to transform the site into a multi-use riverfront destination that they believe will pump money into the Quad-Cities.River Eagle's concept plan for the site shows a hotel, boardwalk, technical center and housing for seniors and college students. Some $200 million in projects and hundreds of jobs are forecast.

"There's nothing comparable to this anywhere around," Mr. Coyle said in December when the group announced its plans.

Mr. Coyle said the property's 4,573 feet of riverfront and recently improved levee make it a very appealing piece of property.

"The site is very attractive. It will essentially be on the water. When fully developed, it will be a beautiful site with the views toward the river," he said. "It's riverfront without much chance of flooding. The remediation is not overwhelming. East Moline is willing and anxious to work with us."

Mr. Coyle said the technical center will be a place with the ability to develop computer programming. The amount of housing on the site and the size of the hotel both will depend on market demand. Housing is intended for seniors, college students attending the Western Illinois Quad Cities riverfront campus, and possibly others. The boardwalk will include retail shops and restaurants.

In mid-February, Mr.VanDeHeede said everything is going well."Everything seems to be falling in place, even quicker than I expected," he said.

The closure of the Case New Holland plant in 2004 was a hit to East Moline. The city received more than $1 million a year between water and sewer revenues and and utility tax because of the plant. When most of its buildings were demolished in early 2007, the city began receiving even less in property taxes, Mayor John Thodos said.

Mr. Jacobs, a Democratic state senator, and Mr. VanDeHeede, who does business development for Multiplayer Gaming Technologies in Elk Grove Village, have been trying to drum up interest in the property since the factory closed in 2004, they said.

"We were tired of seeing it sit empty," Sen. Jacobs said.

Mr. Coyle said Fiat, the company from which River Eagle purchased the site, did a great job addressing the environmental issues on the property, and the group is working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to gain project clearance.

Mr. Murphy, who grew up in Silvis and graduated from United Township High School, lived in the Illinois Quad-Cities until 2004.He said he hopes the project "can be a jump start to a new direction for this community and help restore the same pride this community had back when the shops and foundries were running full strength."

River Eagle Investments is working with NAI Ruhl & Ruhl Commercial Co. to find developers and users to make the project a reality.

John Ruhl, Ruhl & Ruhl Commercial vice president and sales manager, brokered the deal between Fiat and River Eagle and has remained in close contact with the group.

He said River Eagle has the "right intent in that they want to see something positive happen for East Moline and the Quad-Cities as a whole. ...We want others that may have interest to contact us, too," he said, adding that with 132 acres, there's a lot of room for projects.

Mr. Coyle said they are talking to "many different developers for many different aspects."

In order to attract the developers, those involved said it's essential the site be declared a tax increment finance district, in which increases in property taxes for the site would be poured back into the development.

Mr.VanDeHeede said if the TIF goes through, dirt moving on several projects could begin in the spring.

Mr. Coyle said because of the amount of money that a project of this nature requires, "if that were not reimbursable, the cost would be prohibitive."

East Moline will have a TIF consultant determine whether the site is TIF-eligible. If it is, Mayor Thodos said, the council will have to vote to create the district. The mayor said the site's brownfield status makes it pretty certain it will be TIF-eligible. He said the earliest a TIF could be created is sometime in the spring.

Mr. Coyle said River Eagle will escrow money with East Moline, to effectively guarantee the city won't incur out-of-pocket expenses in establishing the TIF district.

If the property does become a TIF district, property taxes generated from new construction would be earmarked to reimburse developers for improvements within the TIF district rather than going to the city, schools and other taxing bodies. The city council would set the life span of the TIF district when creating it.

The site is in an enterprise zone, which means building permit fees are waived and there's no sales tax on building materials, Mayor Thodos said. He said he believes the enterprise zone is effective for eight more years.

River Eagle members plan on launching a website to allow people to weigh in on what they'd like to see at the property and what name they think would be a good fit for the development.

"We have about 50 names in the hopper," Sen. Jacobs said.

Mr.VanDeHeede said once the TIF is announced, the group will launch a contestto name the boardwalk. He said one of the winner's prizes will be having astreet named after them.

Sen. Jacobs said they're leaning toward selecting something that works with the historical nature of the river. Mr. Stern said he's interested in incorporating a Mark Twain theme.

"Mark Twain would love this idea," he said. "It's all about the river and the beauty of the river."

Local events heading

  (More History)