College Hill District Revitalization Plan

College Hill District. Eclectic Vibe. Neighborhood Businesses

On the eastern side of Rock Island nestles a small, two-node neighborhood commercial area made up of approximately 90 properties and 60 businesses. Situated at the intersections of 14th Avenue with 30th Street and 38th Street, this business area grew organically out of the southward expansion of Rock Island.
Originally, the area serviced the immediate neighborhood and Augustana College. However, over time the market area has dramatically expanded with the establishment of a vibrant antiques and collectibles niche and other specialty businesses that reach customers from a hundred miles away.

Over time, College Hill District has established itself as perhaps the strongest retail concentration in the community. With its independent business owners, diverse offerings, charming mid-century setting and walkable and accessible location, College Hill is poised to be the premier shopping area in Rock Island.

Planning Process

The College Hill District Revitalization Plan incorporates citizen input, data, goals and visual inspiration to craft a cohesive strategy that will enhance the best of this commercial area while promoting objectives to bring about important and needed change as well. This document outlines the steps to make College Hill District one of the most vibrant commercial areas of the Quad Cities, filled with businesses that provide service with personal flair.

The path to a revitalization plan married National Main Street Center approaches with a traditional strategic planning effort. Brainstorming, research and strategy discussions were all components. To solidify options on physical aesthetics improvements, a Visual Preference Survey and Streetscape Illustrations Report was contracted with The Lakota Group, involving focus groups, a workshop with over 70 people in attendance, and on-line surveying.

Vision Statement: College Hill District is a vibrant, growing, sustainable business and neighborhood community that enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors.

Mission: To transform the College Hill District into a sustainable mixed use neighborhood through energized businesses.

College Hill District Organization

Even before the planning was finished, one of the key goals of the plan was implemented: to establish a business association. The College Hill District Organization was created in May 2012, and is accepting members. Many of the objectives in the plan address the operation and growth of the organization.


Some key goals included in the College Hill District Revitalization Plan are the following:
  • Developing attractive print and electronic promotional materials;
  • Establishing group retail promotions;
  • Sponsoring two special events each year;
  • Implementing the community’s preference for visual enhancements for streetscape and building facades;
  • Creating a “Living Alley” east of 30th Street and north of 14th Avenue;
  • Implementing a unified vision for exterior building elements, storefronts, business signage and streetscape to enhance community character;
  • Recruiting businesses to be part of College Hill District Organization;
  • Determining funding sources to support the College Hill District Revitalization Plan;
  • Improving the business acumen of College Hill District retailers and service providers;
  • Decreasing the percentage of vacant structures in College Hill District;
  • Increasing parking capacity;
  • Establishing and branding College Hill District as the most walkable commercial area in the Quad Cities;
  • Creating and supporting a compact commercial core; and
  • Developing and maintaining a relationship with Augustana College.