Discuss plans for The Bend at Feb. 21 meeting

The long process to help revitalize the greater downtown area of East Moline will take a major step on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, with the first public meeting to discuss proposed improvements at The Bend as well as overall branding for the greater downtown.

The meeting will be 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Bend Event Center, 910 Bend Boulevard.

The Bend Event Center, East Moline.
The Bend Event Center, East Moline.

Proposed improvements are underway and will be presented at four public meetings in 2024, each covering a different portion of greater downtown – a spring meeting will focus on downtown’s 15th Avenue; summer will be on the Rust Belt area and the fall will address an extension of Bend Boulevard.

The Greater Downtown East Moline Revitalization Project – which includes design and construction – was launched in June 2023 and is funded, in part, through a $23.7-million federal RAISE grant. The project builds on continuing investments in East Moline’s riverfront, including redevelopment between 12th Avenue and the Mississippi River.

Planned improvements include pedestrian-friendly connections between the downtown and Bend/Rust Belt areas, safer railroad crossings, landscaping and outdoor event spaces, as well as artistic details that boost the look and feel of the area.

The logo on the home page of DowntownEastMoline.com.
The logo on the home page of DowntownEastMoline.com.

“The lack of connections and cohesive landscaping between our downtown, The Rust Belt area, and The Bend create both a physical and visual barrier for residents and visitors to explore our great city,” Mayor Reggie Freeman said in October 2023. “We now have an amazing opportunity to create a more beautiful, inviting greater downtown area.”

A new event center, hotel, and music venue along with many new shops and restaurants are currently drawing residents and visitors to East Moline and improving quality of life for residents, according to the Downtown East Moline website.

However, in its current configuration, 12th Avenue serves as a barrier to connectivity that prevents this exciting activity from carrying over into the city’s downtown core on 15th Avenue, the site says. Similarly, better connections will enable residents of downtown areas and those visiting downtown festivals, shops, and restaurants to safely access The Rust Belt area, The Bend, and the Mississippi riverfront.

The East Moline Master Plan aims to improve connections between the downtown area (along 15th Avenue) and the newer Rust Belt area and The Bend.
The East Moline Master Plan aims to improve connections between the downtown area (along 15th Avenue) and the newer Rust Belt area and The Bend.

Completed in 2020, the city Master Plan was developed to guide efforts to improve connections between East Moline’s Downtown (15th Avenue) and the exciting new entertainment and attractions at The Bend and The Rust Belt area. The city of East Moline is moving forward with these plans and is working with a design team to connect the greater downtown through pedestrian-friendly amenities, improved railroad crossings, new landscaping, more outdoor event space, and artistic touches that enhance and connect the community.

The new 64-room My Place Hotel opened at The Bend, East Moline, in early November 2023.
The new 64-room My Place Hotel opened at The Bend, East Moline, in early November 2023.

The city website lists the following planned improvements, with construction starting in spring 2025:

Downtown:

  • Fully reconstruct 15th Avenue between 6th Street and 13th Street and improve streetscaping to beautify the area.

  • Make 15th Avenue more “friendly” for festivals and events by installing curbless streets between 7th Street and 9th Street.

  • Create “pedestrian zones” that include widened sidewalks and pedestrian areas with planters, trees, and seating that provide beautiful areas for the public to enjoy.

  • Upgrade pedestrian ramps and sidewalks and make them more accessible for those using mobility devices like wheelchairs.

  • Create multipurpose spaces between streets and shops for outdoor seating, tables, and vendors.

  • Install green infrastructure to help minimize standing water on our roads and sidewalks.

  • Increase shaded areas for pedestrians.

  • Improve street lighting to make the downtown area more inviting at night.

  • Install new wayfinding signs and other signage to help people find their destinations.

Rust Belt area:

  • Fully reconstruct 12th Avenue between 1st and 7th Street with streetscaping to beautify the area.

  • Construct a new bike and pedestrian path along 7th Street and 12th Avenue to better connect the area to Downtown and The Bend.

  • Upgrade railroad crossings to make it safer and more welcoming for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross.

  • Install traffic-calming features along 12th Avenue to make the corridor more inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists to explore the area.

  • Install wayfinding and streetscaping to create a clear connection between 15th Avenue, the Rust Belt area, The Bend, and the riverfront.

  • Increase the amount of street lighting to make the area more inviting at night.

  • Enhance access to transit.

The Bend area:

  • ​Improve multimodal connections with access to public transit, a new Channel Cat dock, bike and pedestrian routes, and connections to the Great River Trail along the Mississippi River.

  • Construct new sidewalks and paths to better connect pedestrians and bicyclists from 12th Avenue to the river, the Rust Belt, and amenities at The Bend.

  • Add streetscaping and install new wayfinding signs to create better continuity with the Greater Downtown area.

  • Extend Bend Boulevard from Mississippi Parkway to 7th Street, facilitating future developments within the area.

  • Construct new sidewalks and paths with streetscaping and street lighting to create a welcoming place for visitors to explore.

  • Continue streetscaping improvements to allow safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles.

For more information, visit the downtown website HERE.

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