Editorial: E.M. dream real doozy

Posted Online: Feb. 03, 2013, 6:00 am
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
Good things come to those who wait, we're told.

That appears to be the case for East Moliners who have watched and wished for nearly eight years for something wonderful to sprout at the site of the former Case New Holland Plant crowding a prime Mississippi riverfront spot. Often a bridesmaid in recent years to the big development in the metro Quad-Cities, East Moline was overdue for some grand economic development news.

Last week, the owners of the 132-acre site provided a vision we suspect was even better than the city's leaders might have dreamed of.

There will be plenty of time to delve into the details of making River Eagle development group's new development plan -- the aptly named Fountainhead of the Quad Cities -- come to life, including who will be responsible for what as the massive project moves forward. (We also hope that there is no push back for the city's creation of a new TIF to aid in the development. The reformation was necessary to clear up some assessment issues. Besides it's hard to imagine a location that better fits the requirements of a tax increment financing district than this one.)

And we trust that going forward any taxpayer investment Fountainhead will come only after careful consideration and open debate. Until, then, however, let's celebrate the vision. As one of our favorite lines from the poet Carl Sandburg reminds us, "Nothing happens unless first a dream." And this dream is a doozy that not only features wonderfully ambitious plans, but some heavy hitters among its team.

The development began its life two years ago as the Port of Call Quad Cities spearheaded by River Eagle principals, Mike VanDeHeede, Matt Stern, Dan Murphy and state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline.

On Wednesday, we learned that their $1.5 million purchase price investment has morphed into a five-year plan they say will generate 2,000 in construction and permanent jobs and cost about $150 million to complete.
It includes 250 rooms in the Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels, a park of more than three acres with a band stand and a sports center, according to J. Paul Beitler, president of Beitler Real Estate Services LLC, River Eagle's developer.

"This will be the largest single multi-use development in Illinois," said Mr. Beitler, who is no stranger to dreaming big. He and former partner Lee Miglin spearheaded the effort to build a skyscraper higher than the Sears Tower. That ambitious plan never got off the ground, a host of projects big and small in the Chicagoland area have. Indeed, its success helps it to attract some of the world's best-known architects.

One of them, Helmut Jahn, is already on board to create a riverfront hotel that he says will be both a place to stay and a public place. "It relates to the river," he said. "It becomes a special place." The internationally acclaimed Mr. Jahn has created more than 100 special places around the globe. The award-winning and influential architect is known for big projects. But, we're happy to note, his vision isn't confined to metropolises like Chicago, Munich, Berlin, Brussels and Bangkok. "I've never looked at a suburban building as being a minor building and an urban building as being a major building," he once said.

What next? The developers say that Quad-Citians could see work on the infrastructure and the park beginning as early as this summer and the hope is to open the hotel and 300 apartments with 18 to 20 months, with retail and other developments to follow.

Cheers to River Eagle group, the City of East Moline and the development team which has crafted this dream. We look forward to seeing the vision become a reality.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)