A Fareway store will not be built on 18th Av. in Rock Island

July  12, 2013

After a winning minor victory, Rock Island residents who don't want a grocery store in their neighborhood now have a real reason to celebrate. Last night, Fareway Stores announced it's decided NOT to buy Audubon school on 18th Avenue. Early this week, a judge issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Rock Island and the company from proceeding with a proposal to re-zone the property.

The Rock Island School District owns the vacant school and spends 30,000 dollars a year to maintain the property. Superintendent Mike Oberhaus says last November, the Fareway signed an option to buy it for $475,000. 

He's referring to Joe Lemon, who owns and operates the Abbey Addiction Treatment Center in Bettendorf. Lemon has offered to buy and re-develop Audubon for the same amount of money. One possibility is to turn it into apartments or condomiums. 

Attorney Tom Benson represents the four residents who filed a lawsuit. He says they were negotiating a settlement on Thursday when Fareway officials made the decision to withdraw the zoning request and terminate the agreement with the school district.

Benson says the Fareway's proposal was just "the wrong project for that site." And he hopes the company finds a suitable site for a Rock Island store. Benson is a steak-lover, and says he'd be the first in line to shop there.

An engraving above an Audubon school entrance says, "To love all beauty, to hate all vileness, to respect others as oneself is education." (photo by Herb Trix)