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Officials get a sneak peek at The Q

About 50 people got an early look Monday at The Q, the $34 million development in downtown Moline that will include a 96-room extended-stay hotel, retail space and a hub for the passenger rail link with Chicago.

A host of local, state and federal elected officials traipsed through the former O'Rourke Building, along with the new construction at 12th Street and 4th Avenue.

With hard hats and goggles, the four dozen or so people made their way around laborers and talked amid bursts of noise. There still is plenty to be done at the site, but a nearly completed hotel room was on display, and there was a sense that after years of complex work, the city will soon have a new place to showcase.

The Q not only will include a train station and hotel but approximately 18,000 square feet of retail space, with the possibility of new restaurants and entertainment space.

"This whole project is a destination," said Mike Amin, managing partner for The Amin Group, owners of The Element by Westin. He said he expects the hotel to open by October or November.

As the entourage transitioned from the exposed brick walls, columns and woodwork of the rooms built inside the 90-year-old O'Rourke Building to the new glass-encased hall where passengers will board trains bound for Chicago, the juxtaposition was evident.

"The space here is incredible, how they've used the old and adding the new and building it together," said state Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna. "I think it's going to be a great place ... to bring young people here to work and play."

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., had toured the site six months ago. She noted that agencies at the local, state and federal level have had to coordinate their work, and they've partnered to make significant progress.

"I think it's quite a remarkable project," she said.

The idea of the tour was to give people from some of the organizations involved, including members of Moline's historic preservation commission, an update on how the project has progressed.

o far, no prospective tenants for the retail space have been identified, but discussions are underway with a small number of prospects. That includes a couple of restaurants, said John Ruhl, president of Ruhl Commercial Co., which is marketing the space.

"We've got a lot of interest," he said.

In the basement of the facility, officials hope to create an entertainment venue, possibly a bowling alley.

The Q has been on a faster construction track than the passenger rail connection itself. Still, officials on the tour expressed confidence that trains eventually will roll in and out of The Q, and some have said they expect service to begin next year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has said it is negotiating an agreement with the Iowa Interstate Railroad, which owns the track between Moline and Wyanet, Illinois, where the bulk of upgrades need to be made to accommodate passenger service.

Local officials have said they understand that a signed agreement is close, but no announcement has been made yet.

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