04 Oct Downtown Alliance celebrates achievements, forecasts bright future during launch party
The Rock Island Downtown Alliance’s early successes and future ambitions were put on full display during its official launch party Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, at Huckleberry’s Great Pizza and Calzones. With more than 100 downtown workers, business owners, residents and property owners present, Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jack Cullen highlighted the organization’s recent achievements and priorities moving forward, including a new capital improvement grant program, a clean and safe program and small business promotions during the coming holiday season.
The Downtown Alliance recently unveiled its new logo and branding, which reflect the organization’s growing capacity to pursue its mission of providing services and activities for the City of Rock Island’s Downtown Special Service Area that enhance public spaces, encourage private investment and improve quality of life in downtown Rock Island.
“With our expanded team in place, we’re ready to deliver the work we’ve been planning the last two-and-a-half years based on input from downtown stakeholders,” Cullen said. “We’re grateful for the efforts of the downtown business community, the City of Rock Island and our Board of Directors for enabling this level of attention and resources the downtown deserves.”
In September, the Downtown Alliance secured a big win when it added to its workforce with the hiring of Operations Manager De’Andre Robinson. In his role, Robinson will lead a crew of Cleaning Ambassadors and help manage partnerships with the City, law enforcement and social service providers. Residents and visitors alike can expect to see Robinson and the uniformed street team using a freshly branded Downtown Alliance utility vehicle and mobile cleaning carts as clean and safe efforts get off the ground.
All work in the field will be supported by a new mobile software application that tracks daily boots-on-the-ground activities, from the number of trash bags filled and graffiti tags removed to businesses assisted and engagement with members of the street population. The data will be tracked in real-time to measure progress and show the impact of the organization’s work across the roughly 65-block area served by the Downtown Alliance. Data will also help inform the Downtown Alliance Board of Directors and influence future priorities, work plans and budgets.
With these new additions in personnel, equipment and technology, the Downtown Alliance is primed to achieve its primary objectives this fiscal year, which include:
- Assist developers, entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking downtown space or an improvement/expansion to their current space
- Create a capital improvement grant program to incentivize exterior property investments and supplement City financial assistance programs
- Implement a “Clean and Safe” program to provide quality-of-place services, such as litter pickup, weed abatement and mobile safety patrol, in the public realm
- Break ground on the City’s $7.4M Rebuild Downtown Rock Island streetscaping project
- Produce downtown business promotions and special events to boost visibility and sales
- Work closely with the City on code enforcement, signage regulations and right-of-way beautification and maintenance issues
The Downtown Alliance is working with the City of Rock Island to fine-tune a $7.4 million capital improvement project in the core downtown area, which will launch major streetscaping and placemaking improvements in the Downtown Rock Island Historic District, primarily between 1st and 3rd Avenues and 17th and 21st Streets. The proposed scope of work calls for total reconstruction of multiple blocks, along with the addition of decorative lighting, landscaping, signage, outdoor dining structures, greenspace, public art installations and pop-up vendor stalls. The project’s centerpiece is the transformation of the 2nd Avenue pedestrian mall into a curb-less festival street to accommodate both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Moving forward, the Downtown Alliance is set on achieving its vision of making downtown Rock Island a vibrant, welcoming and prosperous place to live, work, play, dine and shop.