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Workshop presents ideas for vacated I-74 space

MOLINE — The community was given the opportunity Wednesday night to offer suggestions for the future look of the downtown Moline area where the Interstate-74 bridge now stands.

A workshop featuring ideas from the I-74 realignment zone study were on display at Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center, 101 18th St. 

Michael Kritzman, senior associate of the Lakota Group, gave a presentation to the audience of 60 that showed possible uses for the land. 

Around the room were drawings outlining the areas that will be open and available for redevelopment once the current I-74 bridge is demolished. 

Visitors were invited to complete a visual preference survey that will be used to help determine a plan. Pictures of residential, commercial, office and streetscape elements from around the Midwest were on display, and the survey asked which designs audience members favored.

Mr. Kritzman pointed out that the drawings and designs on display were simply that, giving audience members an idea of what the area could look like. He said they were not blueprints. 

He described 19th Street as a "critical corridor" for the city that should be "pleasant."

"Whatever those uses are, you want it to be a great connection that feels like it is part of downtown," Mr. Kritzman said.  

Mr. Kritzman said the city and other developers will have more than 13 acres of land to work with. 

He also said it would be important for the city to develop property that stands out and lets visitors know, "Hey, I'm in Moline now."

The next step is to formalize the plans and work with Renew Moline to help make the plans a reality, according to Mr. Kritzman. He said he hopes to have final plans in front of the city council for a vote in April. 

William Cooper of Moline spoke in favor of having locally owned family restaurants in the downtown area. He said there should be no industrial planned for the new areas. 

"This is for the visitors and the citizens," Mr. Cooper said. "Let's take it up a notch. I'm tired of seeing Moline money go out of town. Let's keep some money in Moline." 

 Sam Till of Moline said that the bridge project and what the city does with the property will have a big impact on the entire area. 

"There's 13-plus acres and a lot of opportunity for the city," Mr. Till said. "It's important to stay up-to-date and share this with other citizens. The options they are looking at are pretty exciting."

After the presentation, David Zahn, an art consultant for the Moline Public Library, was discussing with Mayor Stephanie Acri ideas to incorporate art into the downtown area. 

"Yes, we could do statues, but we could also do just neat shapes and forms and we could do things that are just fun," Mr. Zahn said. "They have this turtle park in St. Louis that is just a lot of fun for kids to climb on. It could be combinations of things."

Mr. Zahn said that Davenport, Rock Island and Bettendorf feature art like that in their cities, but not Moline. He said now would be a good opportunity to plan for art in the downtown.

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