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From Site Selection magazine, September 2012

Keeping Up With the People Movers

KONE Bldg 01 and Quad Cities Campus of WIU
The riverfront in Moline, Ill., is evolving this year with the advent of the $40-million KONE Centre (above top) and a new Quad Cities campus from Western Illinois University (above bottom).
Photos courtesy of KONE and WIU


ONE, a Finnish maker of escalators and elevators whose slogan is all about "people flow," is flowing people in various directions in the Quad Cities municipality of Moline, Ill., where the company and its partners in August celebrated the grand opening of the nearly $40-million KONE Centre on the Mississippi River waterfront.

"The new facility allows us to combine our U.S. operations departments and the service business/call center teams into one facility," says KONE Marketing Manager Kellie Lindquist. The project retains nearly 250 KONE employees in the area.

A separate KONE project is taking place nearby on 19th St., where KONE started work in August on its Americas Technical Services Center, which it expects to complete in October. Meanwhile, the company continues to manufacture heavy-duty escalators and modernization products at its Coal Valley facility. Several years ago, the company chose to establish an Americas headquarters in the popular HQ destination of Lisle, Ill, a Chicago suburb.

"Establishing the AHQ was to ensure access to our customers and their access to us," says Lindquist. "The access to a terminal like O'Hare was critical for both international and domestic travel."

In Moline, as part of the development of KONE Centre, the project's owner, Financial District Properties (FDP), purchased nearby company properties including the former operations center, service business/spares center, Quad Cities branch and the historic post office building known as Willis. Lindquist says the operations building is being marketed by FDP for sale or lease.

"KONE Inc. is a major employer in downtown Moline," said Gregory R. Noe, Renew Moline chairman of the board and corporate secretary and associate general counsel for Deere & Co. "Keeping them a strong corporate citizen here was of major importance to all of us."

The building was designed by HOK Architects' St. Louis, Mo., office and constructed by Ryan Companies, Inc., Davenport, Iowa. More than $470,000 in Community Renewable Energy Program American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funds allocated by the Illinois Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity were used to install what is now the third largest distributed solar panel in Illinois. Capturing the energy created by the friction of the movement of KONE elevators is another of the energy conservation features of the building, which is aiming for LEED-Gold certification.

Innovative Finance

Local tax increment financing (TIF) and enterprise zone benefits were coupled with more than $20 million in Midwestern Disaster Recovery Bonds issued by the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) and $5.8 million in New Market Tax Credits secured through U.S. Bank, Great Lakes Capital Fund and Waveland Ventures to make the project a reality.

The city lent $7.5 million at a reduced interest rate to purchase the existing KONE buildings. The two entities also crafted a development agreement which makes FDP eligible for an up to $10.1-million rebate of the nearly $11 million of property taxes it will pay over the 23-year life of the TIF district. 

"KONE is pleased to celebrate this important milestone for our company and the City of Moline. Our commitment to stay and rebuild in downtown has had such a positive impact on our employees of the Quad Cities," said Larry Wash, KONE executive vice president and area director for the Americas. "The opening of the KONE Centre has not only altered the city's skyline, but it has refined the city's image as a modern and vibrant city to live and work in.

Since it launched in 1989, Renew Moline, a public-private partnership, has facilitated more than $250 million of private investment, "making the downtown a place where people live, work, play and learn." Another development is making that final claim come to life, as Western Illinois University, based in Macomb, opened its new Quad Cities Riverfront Campus in January, and is beginning construction of phase two of the campus this fall.

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