Award for Washington Square

October  17, 2013

     Moline has won an award for turning a downtown eye-sore into "new" apartments. This week, Landmarks Illinois announced this year's Preservation Awards, and one goes to the Washington Square Apartments. 

     Moline's community development program manager, K.J. Whitley, oversaw the project for the city. She says it was built in 1876 as 5 units of upscale housing for John Deere executives, then during many changes in ownership converted into 15 apartments. Finally, it sat vacant for about ten years.

     "When we got it, it was dilapidated, abandoned, full of mold and water, and other damage, including broken and missing windows. People were using it to sleep in, to party in, just to trash stuff in."

     Using a grant from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Moline bought Washington Square and turned it into 10, one- and two-bedroom apartments, opening in early 20-12. Whitley says Moline never meant to be a landlord, but couldn't find a private developer despite years of trying. 

     "We're not necessarily making a profit on the property where a developer would need to make a profit. We just need to make enough income to maintain it. Anything extra is like gravy on the mashed potatoes for us."

     There's a waiting list of potential tenants, and she says she can't keep up with all the phone calls from people who'd like to move in. 

     Other preservation awards from Landmarks Illinois went to projects in Chicago, Pontiac, Geneva, and Edwardsville. 


(photos courtesy of the city of Moline)