LeClaire nearly full once again
For many of the 100 or so residents in the LeClaire Apartments, living at the downtown landmark is as rewarding as owning their own home. For others, it's even better.
``Living here is just like coming home for both of us,'' Rex Merryman said of the fifth-floor apartment where he and his wife, Dorothy, have lived for just over a year.
The Merrymans, both in their 80s, worked at the former LeClaire Hotel about 50 years ago.
Mrs. Merryman, a retired beautician, opened her first shop on the main floor of the former hotel. Mr. Merryman worked in the hotel's food service operation. While the couple did not meet at the LeClaire, each can appreciate the other's memories of the downtown hotspot.
``We've always loved this place,'' Mr. Merryman said. ``You just can't beat living here.''
In addition to their memories of the place, the Merrymans chose the LeClaire for its convenience and security. When mowing the grass and shoveling snow became difficult, apartment living made better sense. So, the Merrymans sold their Moline home and moved downtown.
LeClaire Apartments manager Mary Klevgard said nearly all the 110 apartment units, created in a multi-million-dollar renovation, are occuppied.
``We have a beautiful place here,'' Ms. Klevgard said. ``And we've really got some great residents.''
With the building nearly full, many residents said they'd like to see the building's lower level put to use. While the northern part of the main floor is occupied by a computer-education company, the available retail space remains vacant.
``We'd give anything to have a deli or convenience store here,'' Mr. Merryman said. ``We've got a building full of people who would use such things.''
Perhaps no one is more anxious to see a retail resident in the LeClaire than the building's first tenant, Holly Langill.
Ms. Langill moved into her seventh-floor apartment just over two years ago. She said she was drawn to the convenient location, the flurry of downtown activity and a manageable price.
``I was real impressed with what they were doing,'' Ms. Langill said of the renovated hotel. ``Now, there is a real sense of community here.''
Still, Ms. Langill said, she'd like to see businesses join the LeClaire community.
``A deli would be nice,'' she said. ``Or, a coffee shop -- anything.''
While the developer that renovated the old hotel, Madison-based Alexander Co., recently sold its interest in the apartments, a spokeswoman for management group Stonehouse Development said recruiting retailers remains a priority.
``We're pleased the LeClaire has enjoyed great success as a residential community,'' Suzanne Voeltz said. ``Now, we're prepared to redouble our efforts with a ground-floor commercial component.''
While Stonehouse Development manages the LeClaire, the building now is owned by Housing Horizons, a subsidiary of Kimberly-Clark Corp.
Facts about LeClaire Apartments
-- Built in 1922 at a cost of $1 million, the average room rate during the LeClaire Hotel's first year of operation was $1 to $2 a night.
-- Rental prices for today's LeClaire Apartments range from $360 to $910 per month.
-- The landmark's $9 million renovation, completed in 1995 by Madison-based Alexander Co., created 110 apartment units.
-- The LeClaire Hotel, which closed in 1983, had several famous guests, including U.S. Sens. Barry Goldwater, John F. Kennedy, Edmund Muskie and Ted Kennedy, and President Richard Nixon.
-- Nearly 100 percent occuppied, the LeClaire Apartments contain 39 1-bedroom, 68 2-bedroom and 3 3-bedroom units.
-- By Barb Ickes (February 2, 1998)
Copyright © 1998 Moline Dispatch Publishing Company, L.L.C.