Part of former Moline Dispatch building is demolished

The partial demolition of the former Dispatch newspaper building in downtown Moline continued Tuesday morning, July 19.

“It all should be done in a couple of days, if there are no complications,” said one construction worker with Valley Construction at the demo site on Tuesday.

Moline Dispatch
This is part of the old printing press in the former Dispatch newspaper building in downtown Moline. Demolition on part of the building will take at least two more days. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

That demolition work is centered on the eastern 130 feet of the former Moline Dispatch Publishing Company building at 1720 5th Ave. 

Ryan Hvitlok, Moline’s community and economic development director, told the QCBJ on Tuesday that a demolition permit for the eastern part of the building was taken out in May.

He added that the demolition is being done to create additional parking, but does not know the plans for the rest of the former newspaper building.

“Right now, (the owners) have not filed any plans for the future of the building,” he added.

Those potential future plans and the new owners of the building could not be confirmed on Tuesday.

Demolition work on the downtown building started last week. There has been fencing around the building for about a month.

Even though the former newspaper building has been vacant since 2017, the building was the hub of activities for local newspaper operations for decades.

Many former newspaper workers said they have fond memories of the downtown building.

“Words alone can’t express my thanks to the hundreds, likely thousands of incredibly dedicated people who called that building ‘home,’” said Gerald J. Taylor, former longtime publisher of The Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline. “I was lucky to call many of those people my coworkers —  individuals who worked tirelessly day in and day out to write, compose, print, and distribute a newspaper the Illinois Quad Cities could be proud of each and every day.” 

Here are some key dates and events in the history of the newspaper building and The Dispatch newspaper:

  • The Small Newspaper Group (SNG) of Kankakee, Illinois, which was run by the Small family, bought The Daily Dispatch on Feb. 28, 1969. Len R. Small announced in 1986 that SNG had purchased The Rock Island Argus for an undisclosed sum. 
  • For a number of years, the Moline Dispatch Publishing Co. operated the two newspapers out of separate buildings in Moline and Rock Island. (In addition, in 1994 the organization created Quad-Cities Online, the first online newspaper in the Quad Cities. It was located in Moline.)
  • The two print newspapers began sharing a growing amount of content while maintaining separate editorial pages and offices until the Smalls began gradually moving staff to the Dispatch building at 1720 Fifth Ave. Moline. On Dec. 11, 2009, SNG sold the vacant historic downtown Rock Island Argus building.
  • In 2016, the news organization laid off its press operators and the last issue of The Dispatch-Argus came off the presses on Feb. 28, 2016, at the newspaper’s 1720 Fifth Ave. site. Printing responsibilities were transferred to a contractor in Cedar Rapids.
  • On June 19, 2017, the Smalls announced The Dispatch-Argus and had been sold for $7.15 million to Davenport-based Lee Enterprises, publisher of the rival Quad-City Times.
  • Former staffers who were retained by Lee continued to work out of the Moline Dispatch building until December 2017, when the newsroom operation was moved to a remodeled office suite at East Moline Glass Co. The staff was later moved to the Quad-City Times building in Davenport. 

The Dispatch building, which was not included in the sale to Lee, eventually was put on the market and listed for $295,000. According to the listing, the building was built in 1949 and contains 53,004 rentable square feet of office and warehouse space.

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