ROCK ISLAND -- Aldermen on Monday approved spending $1 million to buy 90 acres they hope to transform into a new retail hub.
Located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Illinois 92 and Interstate 280, near Jumer's Casino and Hotel, the land is owned by RiverStone Group Inc., Moline, which had planned to use it as a sand and gravel pit.
Big Island residents have opposed that plan, fearing the pit would undermine a levee that protects their homes from flooding.
At Monday's council meeting, aldermen voted 5-0 to buy the RiverStone site, with Alds. Paul Foley, 3rd Ward, and Joy Murphy, 6th Ward, absent.
Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley said he envisions an outlet mall, a large sporting goods store, restaurants and residential units on the site. About 17 acres of the 90-acre site must to be annexed by the city, he said.
A new tax-increment-financing district will be created to aid development of the site, said city manager Thomas Thomas. He said the site's proximity to Jumer's should attract retailers.
"This is just the beginning of the process," Mr. Thomas said.
Jeff Eder, the city's economic development director, said he already is talking to businesses that could set up shop at the new development, which will be called Jumer's Crossing.A market study by a consulting firm last year found demand for shops and restaurants close to Jumer's.
In other redevelopment action, aldermen at Monday's council meeting also took another step to bring a Walmart Supercenter to Watch Tower Plaza on 11th Street. The council approved spending $12,000 to hire an environmental risk-management firm to investigate part of the site that once housed a gas station.
EnviroNet Inc., of Davenport, will take samples from boreholes at the site of the old Plaza Gas Station to see if groundwater contains gasoline, lead or other pollutants. The consultants then will tell city officials if a cleanup is necessary.
The city currently is buying parcels at Watch Tower. It plans to tear down the shopping center and other nearby buildings to make way for a new Walmart.