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Macomb Will Move Ahead with Downtown Revitalization

Drone photo taken by Chad Sperry/The City of Macomb shared the image with TSPR.
Downtown Macomb photographed by a drone hovering over northeast corner.

After a delay of a couple years, Macomb will move ahead with the second and final phase of its Downtown Revitalization Project.

The city postponed the work because bids came in higher than the city estimated.  And even though the latest round of bids also came in higher than hoped, Alderman At-Large Dennis Moon recommended proceeding with the project.

“Without doing major changes to the plan – and I think we made minor changes to get it down where it is – I believe this is probably the lowest price we’re going to get to do this,” said Moon.

He said private businesses have invested about $2.1 million in the downtown in the past four years, in part because of the city’s planned improvements.

“We owe it to the people that we sold this revitalization project to, to finish the project and do Phase Two,” Moon said.

The city originally estimated Phase Two would cost $1.9 million, and later revised its estimate to $2.3 million. But bids in March and November of last year came in at nearly $3 million or higher.

The city again revised the cost estimate to $2.17 million this year. The low bid this time around is $2.4 million from McCarthy Improvement Company of Davenport, Iowa. The city council approved that bid on a vote of 5-1-1, with Thomas Koch voting “no” and Tammie Leigh Brown-Edwards abstaining.

The Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) already awarded the city nearly $1.3 million for Phase Two -- funding the city was on the verge of losing if it did not proceed with the project.

Moon said the city can cover the rest of the Phase Two cost with money from a combination of its Capital Equipment, TIF District, and General funds.

Phase Two should be completed by the end of this year. Public Works Director Alice Ohrtmann said it will include:

  • New sidewalk, curb, and gutter
  • Landscaping (including new trees and planting areas)
  • New benches, trash receptacles, and bike racks
  • Lighting
  • Milling/resurfacing of the parking lanes on Jackson, Randolph, and Lafayette Streets in and around the Courthouse Square

The city completed Phase One in 2017. As part of that phase, the city:

  • Repaved the streets around the square
  • Freshly painted parking spots, crosswalks, and directional arrows
  • Installed stop signs
  • Built new medians
  • Improved the storm sewer system

Macomb also applied for a state grant to help pay for Phase One, but the state rejected the application so the city completed the nearly $1.5 million project with money from its infrastructure sales tax.
Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.