A new Illinois law could spur new jobs, new downtown development and new community projects for Moline.
That’s the outcome that Moline and economic development officials are hoping for thanks to a new law that will give the city the chance to obtain excess property not needed in the new Interstate 74 bridge project.
Beginning next year, that excess property can be obtained for a variety of new projects that could include a skatepark, residential development and other projects recommended by the public in the coming months.
Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati, Illinois State Rep. Mike Halpin and Renew Moline President and CEO Alexandra Elias outlined the new law and voiced their hopes at a news conference Wednesday, June 1, at the community room at the Moline Police Department.
Mr. Halpin called the legislation, which he sponsored, a “cooperative effort (that) will benefit the public good by bringing forth new jobs and new investment in our community.”
The law – known as HB5205 – was signed recently by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and goes into effect Jan. 1. It will allow the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to sell land no longer needed for highway projects to municipalities at a fair market value. In Moline, that means the city will have the first crack at buying some 16 parcels of downtown property that IDOT acquired for the bridge’s construction but were not needed in the project.
In the past, such excess property would go to public auction. At least some of the Moline property might still go to auction if the city decides not to buy it.
“The city’s first-in-line right to secure property allows us to thoughtfully plan for the future of downtown and assemble property for maximum benefit to the community,” the mayor said in a statement, adding that the new law will be an “important tool in our redevelopment toolbox.”
But before that tool can be used, the city needs to know what it wants to do with the downtown land. And that issue will not be resolved until the city gets public input.
Ms. Elias called this a unique opportunity for Moline residents to give their views about potential public and private uses for the land. “Now is your chance. … There are no dumb ideas,” she said.
The Renew Moline leader added that the available land is located at different downtown sites near the new I-74 bridge alignment.
“The City of Moline has been forward-thinking and ambitious in its planning for the future of downtown. The vision that has been endorsed by the community just got a shot in the arm with this new law,” Ms. Elias said.
The city will have several months to prepare for buying the downtown property. Mr. Halpin said IDOT will not be prepared to sell the land until January, and city staff can work in the coming months to determine which projects and properties will best help Moline’s redevelopment efforts.
Ms. Rayapati said she wants the city to use this time to make good decisions about downtown redevelopment efforts. “We want to do this right. … We need to have good data in front of us,” she added.