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Housing options continue to multiply in downtown Moline, with the latest apartments to open offering something different: 13 “live-work” units on the ground floor in which tenants can operate office-type businesses, with storefront doors opening to River Drive.
The $12.7 million Enterprise Lofts project, built by Gorman & Co., based in the Madison, Wis., suburb of Oregon, contains a total of 69 units on four floors.

The live-work spaces, intended for architects, consultants, accountants and the like, have 16-foot ceilings. This allows for an office, kitchen, bedroom and bath on the street level, with an additional bedroom or office space in the open loft level, connected by a spiral staircase.

The second and third floors have 19 units each and the fourth has 18 units.

Because about $2 million of the financing came from low-income tax credits via the Illinois Housing Development Authority, 62 of the 69 units will be income-restricted at various percentages of the area’s median income, and seven will be market rate, Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president, said.

Tenants were moving into the fourth and third floors last week and “if construction keeps pace, we hope to have the final people moving in by March 1,” Ron Swiggum, Gorman’s director of construction and project manager for the Moline project, said.

Enterprise Lofts is the latest in a string of new housing options opening or under construction in downtown Moline, and more could be on the way.

Ray Forsythe, planning and redevelopment director for the city of Moline, counts about 280 units now open or or under construction in the downtown area between the Mississippi River and 10th Avenue and 12th and 19th streets.

Of those, the biggest chunk is the 110 apartments in the former LeClaire Hotel, which was converted in 1995.

Recent additions are 10 apartments in Washington Square, a former historic row house at 316 17th St., and 18 units under construction by developer Mark Roemer, Davenport, in the former Phillips Mini Mart, 1320 5th Ave. About 74 other units have been converted at various locations since 2004.

The possibility of more apartments exists with the development of the former Sears warehouse/O’Rourke building at 12th Street and 4th Avenue that will house a future Amtrak station in a portion of the ground floor. Housing could be built on all or a portion of the upper five stories, Forsythe said.

And an inventory of downtown commercial buildings shows that five or six have the potential for a total of 100 units on the upper floors, Forsythe said.

With all this development, is there a concern of over-saturation?

Only with income-restricted housing, Forsythe said.

“We think we have reached the limit on work force (income-restricted) housing,” he said. “But we want to try to develop more market-rate (housing).”

Potential tenants include workers at the Rock Island Arsenal and students at the recently opened Quad-City campus of Western Illinois University, he said. The riverfront campus now has 950 students, and when Phase 2 of the college is built by 2014, there are expected to be 1,500 students, he said.

Students do not qualify for income-restricted apartments, he explained.

The idea for Enterprise Lofts was hatched in the summer of 2007 when Gorman representatives were in Moline for the grand opening of their Old Moline High School Lofts, a project in which they converted the former high school/Beling Building on 16th Street into 60 apartments, Forsythe said.

City officials invited Gorman officials to the top of the Kone Inc. tower to discuss a different kind of project — the live-work concept — and to look from the top of the tower at potential building sites below, Forsythe said. A few months later, Gorman officials announced the new project, although construction did not begin until November 2010.

Arranging the financing took time. Of the $12 million project, about half — $6,541,910 – came in federal “stimulus” funds under the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, via the Illinois Housing Development Authority, that are forgivable.

“They were in the right place at the right time,” Forsythe said of Gorman’s receipt of stimulus money.

The exterior of Enterprise Lofts, designed by James McFadden, of Madison, is covered in two colors of brick and a deep terra-cotta plaster, with brushed aluminum accents. The first floor windows have faux-stone lintels and sills.

The sidewalk next to River Drive includes brickwork and trees.

Inside, the building has exposed ductwork reminiscent of historic rehabbed spaces, except that it is brand-new.

Many of the apartments have balconies. The master bedrooms have walk-in closets and there are full-sized laundries. Fourteen of the apartments are fully accessible according to American with Disabilities Act standards, Swiggum said.

Also within the building are a community room with outdoor balcony; a theater with step-down, stadium seating; a fitness center; a business center that will contain copy machines and other equipment; two cyber lounges on a mezzanine level connected by a catwalk, and 2,300 square-feet of commercial space that could accommodate one or two businesses, Swiggum said.

A parking lot to the north is made with porous asphalt; stormwater water actually penetrates the material and flows into the ground rather than sheeting off. Other “green” features include laminated construction beams, sheetrock made of recycled material, efficient appliances and lights, low-flow plumbing and R-49 insulation in the roof, above and beyond standard and code, Swiggum said.