The setting said as much as any of the three speakers ever could Thursday at The Bend Event Center.
It's not that the three East Moline officials did a bad job speaking about the state of the city in a talk to the East Moline-Silvis Rotary Club and guests. It’s just that nothing says more about where East Moline has been, is and will be in the future than The Bend does.
Even on one of the coldest days of the year, the view from the parking lot spoke volumes with the Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels immediately to the south on the river, a 72-unit market-rate apartment complex going up to the southwest, and a new and large auction house going up to the east.
The speakers were East Moline Mayor Reggie Freeman; Tim Knanishu, executive director of the Revitalize and Develop East Moline (REDEEM) group; and Doug Maxeiner, city administrator.
“Most of the buzz in the community and the Quad-Cities as a whole is centered on The Bend and Rust Belt (the nearby music venue),” Freeman said at the outset of his remarks. “Yes, they are critical developments and are starting to pay dividends for the city.”
But a lot more is happening in the city, he told the crowd of 82.
East Moline is moving forward, he said after the program as he walked around and greeted the crowd.
“We’re trying to get back on the map and let people know about the Quad-Cities and East Moline,” Freeman said. “We’re doing good and trying to reach out to developers. Anything we can find, we are going to try to bring to East Moline.”
In the past year, East Moline has created 160 jobs while retaining 70 and drawing a capital investment of $60 million, Freeman said.
He noted that new businesses such as Midwest Ale Works, Jennie’s Box Car, Revival Mane, Iron + Grain Coffee House and the Foundation fitness facility have all been “tremendous additions,” too.
The entire Bend development, which also includes Murphy Park and the Combine restaurant, is "bringing new life to our community,” Freeman said.
In his talk, the mayor reviewed his pre-election focus on three areas of the city: Watertown, Uptown and Downtown.
A grant is being sought to to assist with a long-term solution for residential flooding in the Watertown neighborhood, he said.
The McKinley School Apartments have been sold to a new owner and are in the process of being revamped.
In the uptown area along Avenue of the Cities, a Taco John's is coming to Ridgewood Shopping Center, an area that already added the World Food Market.
Publicly thanking Doug Reynolds of Reynolds Ford, the mayor said the city is looking forward to working with the new owners of My Way Ford.
In terms of infrastructure, the repaving of 7th Street has been a “vast improvement," he told the crowd.
The downtown area is on the verge of gaining an open-air restaurant. John Stopolous, owner of Doc’s Inn in Silvis, bought 726/728/734 15th Ave. with the intention of remodeling the buildings and opening a restaurant and bar with an open-air concept.
Damion's Rib Haven's return to downtown also was cited by Freeman, as was the addition of Breakfast at Berries, a restaurant that will open next door to Damion's.
The downtown also has added Dona Vitae Interiors, he noted, and soon will be adding a new and expanded public library plus a new TBK Bank building.
He said 15th Avenue also is improving, thanks to new water mains installed as part of a $551,000 project. The former East Moline Glass building at 1333 13th Street has been sold to Twin Shores Management LLC, a specialty construction firm that focuses on theaters, family entertainment venues, retail, restaurants and industrial facilities.
The mayor said there will be an added focus on linking The Bend and Rust Belt with downtown areas. He also is focused on additional investment in Jacobs Park because of its value to youths.
Knanishu, director of REDEEM, said these are exciting times in the city, noting the addition of two businesses at the old McLaughlin Body Co. property. One will be the establishment of a distribution warehouse and logistics center for an unnamed local business.
The other is 100,000-plus exposition center, which already is going up just to the east of The Bend area. A nationally known auction company will be the prime user of the facility, he said, and the apartments on the west side should open this spring.
Maxeiner touted the city's staff and the city's upcoming effort for priority-based budgeting effort, noting the city is hitting the reset button.
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