How our lives changed 

2224 E 12 St
Davenport, IA 52803

Quad-City Rental Property Association
PO Box 517
Betendorf, IA 52722

Heartland Towers Senior Community
1700 Hospital Rd
Silvis, IL

Homewood Manor Apartments
3425 60 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Super 8 Motel
2201 John Deere Expressway
East Moline, IL 61244

Pheasant Ridge
3500 70th St
Moline, IL

Watch Hill Tower
3705 9th St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Colona House
54 41 Ave
East Moline, IL 61244

Chateau Knoll
29 & Middle Rd
Bettendorf, IA 52722

Southpark Towers
2424 40 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Marycrest International University
1607 W 12 St
Davenport, IA 52804

St. Ambrose University
518 W Locust
Davenport, IA 52804

Palmer College of Chiropractic
1000 Brady St
Davenport, IA 52803

Augustana College
639 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

H & R Block
1715 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52804

E & J
200 24 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Institute of Commerce
1801 E Kimberly Rd
Davenport, IA 52807

Rock Island County Farm Bureau
1601 52 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Hempel Pipe and Supply
951 S Rolff St
Davenport, IA 52802

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
220 North Main St Suite 900
Davenport, Ia 52801

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
600 35 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

1607 John Deere Rd
East Moline, IL 61244

John Deere Pavilion
1400 River Dr
Moline, IL 61265

John Deere Store
1300 River Drive Suite 100
Moline, IL 61265

Birdsell Chiropractic
1201 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265

2484 53 St
Bettendorf, IA 52722

17th St and 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265

2132 E 11 St
Davenport, IA

1422 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Downtowns: yesterday, today and tomorrow

By Jonathan Turner, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Todd Mizener / staff
Quad-Cities hockey fans can find Mallard merchandise at the Mallard Nest in downtown Moline. The store, like nearby Finney's Bar and Grille and the John Deere Commons, has seen good business with the revitalization of downtown.

Photo courtesy of Renaissance Rock Island
Street cards and automobiles mix it up on 3rd Avenue, Rock Island, between 17th and 18th streets. Both modes of transportation brought many customers to downtown businesses.
Click to view larger image
Lagomarcino's Confectionary in downtown Moline is part of the old and part of the new. It remains at its longtime 5th Avenue location.

When Sears & Roebuck left Moline's 5th Avenue for King Plaza on 23rd Avenue in 1963, it was a retail death knell for downtown.

By the recession of the 1980s and Sears' subsequent move to SouthPark Mall in 1990, downtown's shopping heyday was gone. In its place, customers flocked to the mall.

However, leaders in downtown Moline, East Moline and Rock Island have been working to resuscitate the hearts of all three cities and bring retail and tourist dollars back.

``I can still remember downtown Moline as it was in the early '60s,'' said businessman Jerry Butts, a Moline Centre Development Corp. leader. ``We had a Ward's, a Penney's downtown. We had a small Sears.

``The demise of the downtowns as we knew them was inevitable,'' he said. ``I think you have to take the development of malls as a sign of progress, but now we have to look at the downtown for its alternative marketing concept.''

Montgomery Ward closed its downtown Moline store at 1502 6th Ave. to open with SouthPark in 1974. J.C. Penney followed in 1979, packing up from 1701 5th Ave.

Grant's department store, at 1615 5th Ave., closed in 1975 and stood vacant until a community center opened there recently. Moline Consumers Co. occupies the former Penney's building, and the Ward building still is vacant.

``The mall ... sure sucked a lot of those stores out of the downtown,'' said Mr. Butts, who owns downtown property. ``Not too long afterwards came some very hard times for this area.''

``Forty years ago, downtowns were pretty much the only game in town,'' said Dan Carmody, downtown Rock Island's revitalization guru. ``Certainly, shopping malls are part of the suburbanization of urban areas that happened all over the country.

``You can say the shopping center killed downtown. What the shopping center didn't, the economic collapse in the 1980s finished off.''

Another factor that hastened downtown's decline was physical decay in nearby neighborhoods, said Mr. Carmody, director of Renaissance Rock Island and the Development Association of Rock Island.

``There was a period of prosperity between 1960 and 1980,'' he said. ``Things were so good and so easy, we didn't pay attention to downtown. There was sort of a complacency that set in.

``People were shopping elsewhere -- 23rd Avenue, Kimberly Road. Those places were springing up and growing.''

Rock Island's downtown lost its Sears and Ward's from 2nd Avenue, and later McCabe's department store on 3rd Avenue. These buildings all have other retail or office uses now.

Tremendous lifestyle changes since 1965 -- mainly in the growth of dual-income families -- also have fueled the mall's popularity, Mr. Carmody said. Families have far less time to shop nowadays, so that time is concentrated at ``one-stop'' shopping centers, he said.

More flexible hours, including evenings and weekends, standardized among many businesses also attracted customers to the malls, said Rick Baker, Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce executive director.

``In the mall you have critical mass in the number of stores,'' he said. ``You can do a lot there -- you can eat, shop. But you can do that downtown, too.

People perceive that they walk farther downtown than they do in a mall, Mr. Baker said. ``You can walk the whole distance of an entire downtown, but it seems longer when you're downtown.''

Since the late 1980s, when downtown revitalization groups began to form, city centers have emphasized their differences from malls and their uniqueness.

``When competing with major retailers,'' Mr. Baker said, ``it is really the niche. You don't go head to head. You play up where your strengths are.''

He said the downtowns have done a lot in recent years, spending time and money on facade improvements, signs and banners. ``They're creating an environment people want to go to,'' he said.

The Development Association of Rock Island (DARI) and Renew Moline were formed in 1988, and Revitalize and Develop East Moline (REDEEM) was founded in 1991 as an adjunct of the East Moline Citizen Advisory Committee.

Each group's mission was to create a public-private partnership to attract money, support, and new businesses for downtown redevelopment.

Mr. Butts, Renew Moline's first president, said the downtowns had to just about hit bottom to get people to take a hard look at revitalization. Nothing happened earlier because the economy of the early '80s couldn't handle it, he said.

``The downtown, in essence, is the front door of the community,'' he said. ``We needed to do something about it.''

``That's why you have all these associations -- associations in each community,'' Mr. Baker said. ``They all have a vested interest. It's their livelihood. They've invested many years.

``Lagomarcino's is an example. There's generations of time that have been committed to that business,'' he said. ````They work very hard on doing things together to promote their area.''

Public-sector involvement is crucial to boosting downtown fortunes, Mr. Baker said. The state's $20 million grant and Moline's bonding for The Mark are a prime example, Mr. Butts said.

``Whether it's John Deere Commons or the Botanical Center, the best new public facilities are in our downtowns,'' Mr. Carmody said.

``If we can continue to build the image of the downtown, hopefully we will get business,'' Mr. Butts said. ``I think downtowns have to become destinations in and of themselves.''

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.