By: Christine Souders
A major QC bridge project is forcing dozens of Bettendorf businesses to hit the road.
More than 35 businesses are in the path of the I-74 Bridge Project, and State and Grant Streets Realignment Project, and Wednesday, the City of Bettendorf and Iowa DOT held a community meeting to talk about plans already set in motion.
"By 2014, I believe all the buildings will have been purchased and all the buildings will have been demolished,"said Steve VanDyke, Bettendorf Director of Economic Development.
Crescent Cleaners in downtown Bettendorf is one of the businesses in the way of the projects, and like many folks who came to the meeting, Business Owner DeAnn Soults has some concerns, "Is the bridge going to happen, is it not going to happen. Where is the money going to come from, when is it going to happen."
Soults said she was first notified about the projects ten years ago, and because they have to move, she's worried the business won't get a fair payout, "At that time my property was worth more than Duck Creek, and now because private investors didn't want to invest in downtown Bettendorf anymore because of the bridge."
The Iowa DOT has been buying up properties along Grant and State streets, so that when the new bridge arrives all the exits will converge in the same place, but city leaders said businesses being displaced will be given $150,000 dollars a year, for five years if they stay in Bettendorf.
"Let's get them to survive, let's get those jobs to survive. I mean several hundred people make a living down here," said VanDyke.
Which is exactly what Crescent Cleaners plans to do, "We've been here since the 50's, so it just makes sense to stay, this is where customers are, they're not going to travel terribly far to come see me."
City leaders said if business owners can't find somewhere to re-locate in Bettendorf, city help may be available for new construction. The city does expect to take a hit over the next few years on tax income lost from downtown businesses.