New lofts going up in downtown Moline

Construction is under way in downtown Moline on lofts that will help residents work from home.

The Moline Enterprise Work-Live Lofts at the corner of River Drive and 19th Street will feature 69 rental homes. The $12.6 million project is funded by $10 million in federal money and $2.6 million in private funds.

The federal funding was allocated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority and comes from three sources: the federal New Issue Bond Program, stimulus funds and a low-interest federal HOME loan.

Man Yee Lee, a representative of the development authority, said the housing will be affordable and is intended not only to generate 51 construction jobs, but also to help tenants cut travel costs.

“In these times right now, we’re doing everything we can to help Illinois families get through this economic crisis,” she said. The work-live lofts will “make sure they’re not spending all of their money on getting to work. This is one trend that people are having right now: working from home.”

Construction is scheduled to be done by the spring of 2012. The building will include 29 one-bedroom, 26 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom units. There will be a conference room, a theater for multimedia presentations, a business center, a cyber cafe and a community room with an outer deck.

There also will be retail space on the street level.

To qualify for affordable housing units under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines, would-be tenants must earn at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which is $40,150 in Moline for a two-person household. Market-rate units also will be available, according to the development authority.

Jim Bowman, the executive director of Renew Moline, said the lofts, which are going up on a vacant, landscaped lot, will contribute to the downtown’s “vibrancy,” with more tenants and workers.

“This particular project is a unique offering,” he said. Tenants “will be provided a custom setting to live and work in the downtown and, more importantly, live and work in the building.”

The lofts will be located at an intersection that will become a gateway to the city once the new Interstate 74 bridge is built, he said. The retail space could be used to meet some needs downtown, such as a place to buy dry goods or get breakfast, he added.

Bowman thinks the building’s business amenities will appeal to employees of some of the city’s bigger companies, such as Deere & Co., Kone and United Healthcare.

The lofts also could be used by Western Illinois University students since the riverfront campus will be nearby when it is completed.

“It’s not student housing per se, but there is no question students who attend Western could live there,” Bowman said.