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Editorial: Here’s to keeping our sights high, our vision broad

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Via The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus

Moline’s economic development chief Ray Forsythe was right when he suggested that there’s something special about the feeling you get when a vision comes together.

The city’s planning and development director was talking about progress on the Three Corners Development next door to Western Illinois University-Quad Cities, when he told reporter Dawn Neuses, “It’s exciting to see it happen. It’s cool to cross the I-74 bridge and see all of the lights down there, to see the city growing, modernizing and thriving.”

Sometimes, as we drive by the growing WIU-QC campus, we have to resist the urge to pinch ourselves to see if it’s all real.

And, of course, we remain hungry for more, much more, so we joined Sunday in celebrating the news that Three Corners Development Inc. officials are predicting a full complement of student-residents and two restaurants to open on the ground floor of The Mills at Riverbend Commons within a few months.

Christopher Woods, president of the Orland Park firm acting as master developer of a three-phase project just west of the Western riverfront campus, said he expects student housing to be fully occupied by May 1 with a mix of students from WIU, Augustana College, St. Ambrose University, Trinity College of Nursing, Palmer Chiropractic College and Black Hawk College. Deere & Co., Alcoa and SpeedConnect also have signed on the dotted line to house interns at The Mills.

Restaurants are expected to open some two weeks later in part of the ground-floor space featuring banks of windows and unobstructed Mississippi River views. A coffee/tea shop and pizza cafe are on the drawing board.

“It is very, very exciting,” Mr. Woods said. “This spring, there will be a lot of activity here. We will have more than 200 residents living on-site and half of the commercial space filled.”

Interest in the rest of the space is reportedly high, and the hope is the two restaurants will convince others to ink deals of their own. “We have not even begun to see the level of interest that will be generated for this project,” says Jeff Miller, a Grampp Realty commercial broker working with Three Corners.

We look forward to seeing what develops and to seeing the company’s Phase II plans for Riverbend Commons, which Three Corners reports are in the works, but not yet final.

We were pleased to learn that the planners remain sensitive to the need not to turn this marvelous riverfront space into concrete and parking lots but to create a welcoming neighborhood that fulfills the needs of its residents, university students and professionals, and the community at-large. From the beginning, we’ve believed development of the area around Western will be crucial to the future success of the city and the community.

“We are very positive about this development, the opportunities of the entire site and what we are trying to accomplish,” Mr. Woods said. The Three Corners’ progress report is an encouraging one. But what comes next is equally important.

As San Francisco Chronicle’s celebrated columnist Herb Caen said, “A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.”

Here’s to keeping our sights high and our vision broad and continuing to pursue our dreams.

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