From the pages of

East Moline is being REDEEMed

Lyn Paris
EAST MOLINE -- You don't have to look far to see what work Revitalize and Develop East Moline (REDEEM) has done.

In the seven years REDEEM has been in existence, new development has resurfaced from once-blighted areas along with the new jobs and opportunities they give East Moline.

REDEEM Executive Vice President Lyn Paris said for proof of the organization's progress all it takes is a look up the hill.

``If you look at what REDEEM has done, just look at the North Hill development,'' Mr. Paris said.

Once the site for United Township High School's North Campus, the North Hill Retirement Village sits on the land the school once inhabited. UTHS closed the campus in 1991, abandoning the building.

``It was a blighted, deteriorating high school building,'' Mr. Paris said.

A short time later, REDEEM purchased the building and demolished it, turning it into 13.5 acres of green space. With the help of a Wisconsin developer, REDEEM turned the land into the North Hill Retirement Village in late 1996. Today, the $8.5 million project contains 134 units -- 100 apartments and 34 condominiums -- for senior living. The village offers one focus of REDEEM's mission.

Since 1991, REDEEM has been accomplishing many of its goals for the East Moline community. The organization was formed as the result of a citizen's advisory commission created by the East Moline City Council. Mr. Paris said the committee felt it was beneficial to form a private nonprofit organization to aid in East Moline's needs.

Although REDEEM is private, it works side-by-side with the city. Funded by area businesses, corporations and other sources, the organization purchases land and develops it for future use. Other projects REDEEM is responsible for are the development of the I-80/I-88 Business Park on the city's east side and the connection of a nine-mile East Moline water line to the IBP plant in Joslin.

These days, REDEEM is looking toward the Mississippi River for new development as a 90-acre riverfront development is in the works. The development would have condominiums, restaurants, offices and a sports complex. The development is in its early stages. Despite this, Mr. Paris said it will be better than it once was.

``It was a disaster waiting to happen,'' he said about the Fairbanks Morse Works and Deere Malleable Works sites. Mr. Paris said the sites once were a haven for drug users and gangs before REDEEM bought the land and turned it into the Great River Industrial Park. The land is now set to become the riverfront development.

In addition to the potential of new businesses the development could bring to East Moline, it will also help revitalize the downtown area.

``This project takes three projects and folds them all together,'' Mr. Paris said. ``It will support and enhance what we're doing downtown.''

So far, REDEEM has accomplished a few of the nine goals it has agreed to do with East Moline. With the partnership between the organization and East Moline, REDEEM is building toward a better and more industrious community.

``Everything that's done with REDEEM is solely for East Moline,'' Mr. Paris said.

-- By Kristophere' Owens (February 9, 1998)

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