Request for Proposals

Downtown Revitalization Plan

City of Rock Island

Rock Island, IL

Posted: 05/07/2014
Submittal Deadline: 06/02/2014


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Downtown Revitalization Plan

City of Rock Island

The City of Rock Island is requesting proposals from qualified consultants to prepare a Downtown Revitalization Plan. Rock Island is fortunate to have an historic downtown that generates jobs and tourism, and provides opportunities for relaxation, entertainment, and families close to home. This has not always been the case. Rock Island’s downtown faced over a decade of decline in the 1980s and early 1990s following the farm crisis that caused many residents and businesses to leave the community. Seeing a dire need to stimulate growth and vitality and reverse the rapid decline of the downtown, the City of Rock Island partnered with Renaissance Rock Island to initiate a robust downtown planning effort that resulted in the 1991 adoption of Downtown 2000—a strategy to mobilize community support for public investment in downtown rehabilitation. The Downtown 2000 plan was the guiding force that initiated many positive changes in the downtown since the 1990s. In 2006, the City again partnered with Renaissance Rock Island to update the downtown plan. Many objectives identified in the updated plan have been completed—continued investment has created new places to live and allowed new businesses to open their doors. In order to keep the positive momentum going, an updated plan is again necessary to provide new direction for future revitalization efforts.

Related Planning Efforts
In addition to past downtown plans described above, several planning efforts have been completed that will impact Rock Island’s downtown. The City established the Downtown Area Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in 1985 to attract private investment, eliminate blight, and fund redevelopment. The TIF project plan and area boundary have been amended on four occasions to adjust the boundary and/or retirement date. The most recent amendment was adopted February 2014. The TIF is programmed to retire in 2020.

In addition to the downtown TIF, the City recently completed a city-wide Comprehensive Plan that outlines policies and direction for the future development of the downtown. In addition, the City adopted a redevelopment plan for the Arsenal Gateway area of the City. This plan is intended to attract and direct investment to support the long term viability and sustainability of the downtown economy.

Specific Issues to be Addressed
In determining the need for an updated plan, the City identified the following issues to be addressed by the consultant in the development of the Downtown Revitalization Plan:
• Rock Island Arsenal. The Rock Island Arsenal, located on the 946-acre Arsenal Island, is one of the Quad City area’s largest employers and the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the United States. Arsenal Island draws workers and tourists locally and from around the world and the nine active commands based at the Arsenal drive economic development in the region. While some private employers prefer to locate operations directly on the island, there are opportunities to attract arsenal-related business off-island. The City seeks to capitalize on its proximity to and access via the Government Bridge to the Arsenal in order to foster business growth that is synergistic with government operations on the island.
• Business Retention, Attraction and Downtown Housing. A reciprocal relationship is created when new residents occupy downtown spaces for their homes—those residents create the demands for retail and services that attract commercial investment. They also represent a new workforce and generate opportunities for new employment growth. The City has been collaborating with Renaissance Rock Island over the past several years to establish new owner and renter occupied housing in the downtown. The City intends to continue to this collaboration to enhance and increase downtown living options through infill, rehabilitation, and new construction. The City hopes this continued effort will create the critical mass necessary to sustain new commercial endeavors in the downtown and elsewhere in Rock Island.
• Parking Management. Convenient parking is necessary to support patronage of downtown businesses. While there is ample parking in the downtown, there is a perception that parking is limited, not easily accessible, and that meters are heavily enforced. Further, new downtown housing projects are creating new demands for resident parking that hasn’t existed before. A parking strategy is needed to dispel misconceptions about the “lack” of parking while providing a guide to ensure appropriate use of existing parking.
• Downtown Identity. Throughout the Quad Cities, Rock Island’s downtown is synonymous with “The District”, short for the Rock Island Arts and Entertainment District, a brand established in the 1990s. Over the years, “The District” has developed a reputation for having an active nightlife that caters largely to younger patrons. “The District” label at times limits/distorts the image the City would like to portray of the downtown. Our downtown is more than a collection of bars and entertainment venues—it is a place to live and a place for commerce, recreation, and families.

Through this planning effort, the City would like the plan to address how to reconcile the two identities—“The District” versus the Downtown. In addition to “The District”, the Great River Plaza is an area of the City defined by municipal ordinance that is intended to provide opportunities for pedestrian focused activities that add charm, vitality, diversity. Like “The District” this defined area of the downtown may be at cross purposes with establishing a broader identity for the downtown. Through this planning process, the City is seeking guidance on whether a firmly defined downtown boundary is needed and the necessity of these or other potential subareas of the downtown.

Planning Area Boundary
The planning area for the Downtown Revitalization Plan is bound by the Mississippi riverfront on the north, 13th Street on the west, 24th Street on the east, and 7th Avenue on the south. The planning area, depicted on the map below, overlaps with “The District,” the Great River Plaza, and portions of the Arsenal Gateway Revitalization planning area. As described above, the City hopes to better define the boundary of the downtown through this planning effort.

Scope of Work
The Downtown Revitalization Plan must clearly articulate an exciting yet realistic vision for downtown Rock Island. The plan must outline achievable actions to guide and catalyze further investment in the downtown. This proposed scope of work is intended to be a general outline of the type of work we anticipate to be included in this planning process. It is not an all-inclusive description of the elements to be included in the plan or associated public outreach activities. We are relying on your professional expertise to guide the planning process, including the development of a logical and creative scope of work. In general, the scope of work should include the following activities:
• Existing Conditions Analysis
• Stakeholder and Community Engagement
• Parking Strategy
• Economic and Market Analysis
• Revitalization Plan and Implementation Strategy

Existing Conditions Analysis. Develop an inventory and assessment of present conditions, strengths and weaknesses, and special issues facing the downtown. It is expected that the consultant will work closely with city staff and other infrastructure-related entities to identify conditions and concerns. A walking tour of the study area with city staff and other stakeholders is a recommended component of the existing conditions analysis. In addition, the consultant should review and become familiar with related planning documents.

Stakeholder and Community Engagement. Work with staff to create an innovative public engagement plan utilizing traditional and non-traditional outreach methods to encourage participation from a diverse population and build consensus in the planning process. Examples include community survey, online forum, such as MindMixer, charrette, focus groups, or other innovative approach (see link: In addition to the general citizenry, stakeholders (downtown residents, business owners, visitors, and others) will be involved in all phases of the planning process to discuss project elements, identify preferred outcomes as well as points of consensus and conflict.

Parking Strategy. Analyze the City’s parking facilities and operations and develop recommendations for improvement, including the following:
o Accommodate a growing residential population without negatively impacting retail and other sectors that need employee and customer parking.
o Address misconceptions about the perceived lack of downtown parking.
o Identify appropriate rate structures and parking turnover without unduly penalizing visitors.
o Technology improvements that emphasize customer convenience but control operating costs and generate sufficient revenue to support system operations.
o Propose a governance and management structure that can contribute to successful implementation of the other recommendations.

Market Analysis. Conduct market research to identify current trends and existing market conditions; evaluate opportunities and constraints for future commercial and residential growth in the downtown; identify gaps that can be filled by new businesses; and identify potential opportunities in underserved markets and vacant or underutilized buildings.

Revitalization Plan and Implementation Strategy. Prepare a Downtown Revitalization Plan that incorporates the above listed analysis and ideas generated by public outreach efforts. The plan should establish a strategic approach and methodology to guide future development and investment in the downtown. Specifically, the plan should:
o Clearly articulate an exciting yet realistic vision for improving the downtown.
o Identify redevelopment opportunities and strategies to successfully complete catalytic projects.
o Propose project phasing by prioritizing short, middle, and long-term public investment for the next 10-15 years.
o Identify financial resources and mechanisms to fund public and private redevelopment projects, including TIF funds and other incentive approaches.
o Outline performance indicators and a monitoring framework to track progress toward reaching goals and priorities established in the plan.

Project Timeline and Budget
The City has allocated a budget of $60,000 for this project and anticipates a 6-9 month timeline to complete the planning process resulting in a Downtown Revitalization Plan. Final presentations to the City Council may occur outside of this timeframe. Both the project timeline and budget are subject to change based on the availability of funds or other unforeseen events or activities.

Selection Criteria
Proposals will be evaluated according to the following factors:
• Experience and availability of key personnel.
• Past performance on similar projects.
• Demonstrated understanding of the project.
• Familiarity of key personnel with Rock Island.
• Experience and creativity in conducting public outreach.
• Proposed project approach, including proposed schedule and budget.
• Quality and completeness of proposal.

Submittal Format
Proposals should demonstrate a clear understanding of the project and provide a summary of the team’s qualifications, examples of successful projects, and proposed deliverables. Proposals should not exceed 25 pages and must include the following items:
• Cover letter
• Project understanding
• Scope of work
• Project team
• Itemized budget
• Proposed timeline

Six (6) hard copies and one digital copy of the proposal should be submitted to the following address:

City of Rock Island
Attn: Brandy Howe, AICP
1528 3rd Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201

Proposals are due by noon on Monday, June 2, 2014.

Submission Schedule and Key Dates
The following is the proposed schedule and key dates for finalizing a consultant contract. All dates are subject to change.
• Deadline for questions: May 21, 2014
Please direct written questions to Brandy Howe at
• Proposals due: June 2, 2014
• Selection committee review: June 3-6, 2014
• Consultant interviews: June 9-11, 2014
• Selection committee recommendation to City Council: June 19, 2014
• City Council approval of selected consultant: June 23, 2014
• Contract negotiations: June 24-27, 2014
• Contract signed: June 30, 2014