Downtown Revitalization Plan

Providing Direction for Public & Private Revitalization Efforts

Downtown is a critical part of Rock Island. To account for the many dramatic changes in downtown Rock Island since 1996, an updated Downtown Strategic Plan was created in 2006 through a partnership of the City’s elected officials and staff, Renaissance Rock Island, and downtown residents and property owners. The Arsenal Gateway Plan was adopted by City Council in 2013. With a core of major employers, recent housing development, and major investments in the downtown infrastructure having been made, the strategic plan provides direction for public and private revitalization efforts.

Critical Issues

  • Developing the riverfront plays a key role in the future growth and image of the downtown.
  • Increasing occupancy rates to increase commerce within the downtown area is key. Additional private and public investment is important to reducing vacancy rates.
  • Competition between cities is accelerating, creating duplication in offerings and service to the community and businesses.
  • Past efforts and cooperation between the City of Rock Island, Renaissance Rock Island, and other development groups have been successful, yet a renewed clear and shared vision is necessary. Ultimately, this will lead to defined roles in achieving the vision.
  • The potential character of the downtown area will be a point of differentiation between other cities, yet private investment has been slow. There is a mixed message in terms of architecture.
  • The District has created a brand equity and sense of presence not seen in other cities. This equity needs to be leveraged in order to balance the appeal to additional age groups while renewing its emphasis on the arts.
  • Synergies need to be improved between the solid core of businesses currently located downtown, ultimately improving their connection to the growth of the downtown.
  • Maintenance and cleanliness of both public areas and private buildings needs to be enhanced.

Top Nine Objectives

The following nine objectives were developed with specific action steps and responsible parties identified:
  1. Increase utilization and occupancy of the downtown properties, ultimately enhancing activity and commerce.
  2. Complete a Riverfront Plan to include funding and timetable, while integrating the downtown as a place of commerce and recreation.
  3. Continue to grow the downtown residential population through an understanding of current and future needs.
  4. Engage the business community to understand their needs, develop solutions, and support the growth of the downtown area.
  5. Continue to enhance a pedestrian-friendly downtown.
  6. Refine and promote the brand of the downtown area - The District.
  7. Enhance the creation and performance of the arts for sale or public display in the downtown.
  8. Complete evaluation of nightlife activities and make recommendations on changes to enhance the image of downtown.
  9. Collaborate with neighboring cities.
While much has been accomplished since the plan was originally approved, the objectives are still relevant and more work needs to be done.