The Quarter: A ‘cool location’ for new homes in East Moline

After years of failed plans, East Moline project getting new homes

The Quarter
A new housing development now is in progress at The Quarter in East Moline. Some 38 homes will be built over the next three to five years. PHOTOS DAVE THOMPSON

EAST MOLINE – A section of this community called The Quarter finally has a new residential housing project in the works because …

  • The timing and economy are right.
  • More people are interested in living by the river.
  • The city and developers are working together to help create the project.
  • East Moline has a “guardian angel” who has backed the project.

Those are some of the things that developers and city and economic development officials say have spurred a housing development that could bring at least 38 new homes (and maybe a lot more) to East Moline in the coming years.

That new housing development is going into The Quarter, an area of the city along Beacon Harbor Parkway near the Mississippi River and a bike trail.

Currently, infrastructure work is underway – a road has been built for the new neighborhood and the first foundations will be done in the coming weeks. If all goes according to plan, 38 villas will be built at The Quarter in two phases over the next three to five years. 

There are already a few homes built years ago and located in The Quarter, but they are not part of this project.

For more than 20 years, several potential residential and commercial projects have been planned for The Quarter, but never became reality.

Now, new homes are just around the corner.

The first of those homes – with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and open concept designs – should be done this fall, according to developer Brad Bagby, who, along with East Moline businessman Larry Anderson, have formed B & L Development to build the homes.

The starting price for the new homes will be just under $200,000.

“It’s a cool location. … It’s a great view of the river,” Mr. Bagby told the QCBJ. “It’s a great fit for the community. A lot of people want to live here.”

He added that the homes going in at The Quarter are already proving to be a popular idea with many people. As of late May, at least seven families or individuals had already signed up to buy villas being built in Phase One of the development. (The first phase calls for 20 homes, with 18 homes built in the second phase.)

And Mr. Bagby is pretty confident that The Quarter will see a Phase Three in a few years.

He added that he’s “optimistic” that additional homes will be built because there is still a big need for more housing in the region.

“(The housing market) is still super hot. … The inventory is slim and housing is all going pretty quickly,” he said.

In recent months, The Quarter housing development has faced the same problems that have hit many other parts of the economy – inflation, inventory shortages and worker shortages. But Mr. Bagby doesn’t think those issues will slow down the housing work.

“Right now, we are dealing with it pretty well,” he added.

But development projects at The Quarter have not alway gone well. That property was gifted by Deere & Co. in 1998 to Revitalize and Develop East Moline (REDEEM), a nonprofit organization with the goal of promoting economic development in the city.

Tim Knanishu, executive vice president of REDEEM, said there have been several attempts to bring commercial and housing projects to The Quarter over the years, but none have worked out – until now.

“The current developers, B&L Development at The Quarter, produced a plan that involved financial participation by REDEEM in putting the infrastructure in place,” said Mr. Knanishu. “B&L has the experience for this type of residential development. Their financial wherewithal, along with their desire to develop this prime riverfront property, are the factors that will make this a success.”

That success is also coming because of the economy, needs of the community and cooperation between government and business officials.

“Everybody is going in the same direction on this,” said Mr. Knanishu.

Mr. Bagby added: “East Moline just came together for this project. We all had the same goal, and that was to build something good for the community.”

Much of the credit for the project goes to East Moline Mayor Reggie Freemen, Mr. Bagby added.

The developer said that about a year ago, the mayor approached him and suggested he start a housing development at The Quarter.

Mr. Knanishu added that the mayor is a man “always looking forward” with projects.

“It’s all about putting new rooftops in East Moline. This is what we need,” Mr. Freeman said.

“There is a real interest now in the river. People want to be on the river and have that view,” he added.

But the success of the housing development at The Quarter is more than the public’s quest for river views.

John Thodos, a former East Moline mayor and council member, said that several past potential projects at The Quarter have been hampered by bad economic times or the lack of money. Now, the timing appears to be right, and it has the backing of Mr. Anderson, who is part of the B&L Development team. This time, the difference has been Mr. Anderson’s drive, backing and money to get the current housing development moving, added Mr. Thodos.

“East Moline has a guardian angel in Larry Anderson . …  Thankfully, the current mayor has Larry in his corner,” he said.  

The Quarter: At a glance

  • The Quarter was donated to Revitalize and Develop East Moline (REDEEM) in late 1998. It is a former brownfields site. About 80 acres were donated to REDEEM.
  • Tim Knanishu, executive vice president of REDEEM, said in those early years “a master plan was developed and a developer was secured. The residential piece of the land began and then a recession took place and impacted the development group that started the development. The housing bubble of 2006-2007 quashed the plans of another group of local investors. There have been other interested parties, but the Illinois housing market has been difficult.”
  • There have been several development plans for The Quarter over the years including office space, retail areas, a sports complex, a restaurant and visitors center. 

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