Old Q-C school takes on new life

By David Heitz | Comments(4)

Chris Laurent from Gorman & Co. talks Monday about the different aspects of the new apartments being built in the old Moline High School building on 16th Street. The redevelopment of the historic landmark includes 60 apartments, scheduled to open in April.

Photos by Kevin E. Schmidt/QUAD-CITY TIMES Members of the news media and area business people tour new apartments being built in the old Moline High School on 16th Street in Moline. The 60 apartments are targeted especially toward artists and other creative people, the developers say.

For Jim Scott, a 1948 graduate of Moline High School, the historic building at 1001 16th St. was a place to learn.

Now, almost 60 years after his graduation, it will become a place to live.

Scott, a member of the Moline Preservation Commission, and other city dignitaries toured the 80,000-square-foot building Monday. It is being renovated by Gorman and Co. Inc. of Madison, Wis., into apartments for artisans and the creative class.

“It’s nice to see something being done with it,” Scott said, adding that his parents also graduated from the school in 1918 and 1919.

Gorman helped finance the $9.4 million project with tax increment financing and enterprise zone assistance from the city. Chris Laurent, senior development manager for Gorman, said construction is running about two months behind schedule, but the property still should be ready for tenants by July.

Officials said monday that a lot of work remains to be done on the building, where living spaces slowly are taking shape. Many of the apartments will boast large windows and bright, airy designs.

Laurent said the developer hopes to find a use for the old auditorium, part of which will be used as gallery space for artists. Another Gorman property, Kunzelmann-Esser Lofts in Milwaukee, hosts quarterly events where residents can display and market their work to the public.

Many of the units offer stellar views of the Interstate 74 bridge and Mississippi River valley. Gorman added a fifth floor to the structure which will house five apartment units. “It had to look congruous but not that you’re trying too hard to pick up the original feel of the building,” Laurent said. “The building is pretty solid. It probably could support a couple of more floors.”

The fifth floor includes a common area with fireplace. “We wanted to make sure everyone would share in the great views, not just the best units,” Laurent said.

One-bedroom units will range from 750 to 900 square feet and will rent for about $755. Because the project received affordable housing tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, it must also offer units at reduced rents for people who meet income requirements.

In all, the Collegiate Gothic-style high school, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will house 60 units, including some two-story townhomes. It also will feature a fitness center, theater, multi-use workshop, woodshop, photo lab, dark room, rooftop garden, clay room and business center.

“There has been a real interest from some of the arts people,” Laurent said. “People who aren’t real artists but sort of think of themselves as artists also would like to live in our building.”

Laurent said it took two months just to clean the building out.

“It was a mess. The building continued to degrade over the two-and-a-half years that we sought funding,” Laurent said.

The city desk can be contacted at (563) 383-2245 or newsroom@qctimes.com.

archie wrote on March 14, 2006 7:57 PM:"some contractors are local. the ones that are from out of town are doing shoddy workmanship and are way behind schedule."

local carpenter wrote on March 14, 2006 2:43 PM:"why aren't local contractors being used "

Judi Webb - Altoona, IA wrote on March 14, 2006 12:00 PM:"It's nice to see that the Quad Cities values things old, Des Moines could take a lesson from them!"

anon wrote on March 14, 2006 11:15 AM:"$755 for rent!! That's affordable?! Get real! One might as well buy a house for that amount of monthly outlay!"

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