Former QC newspaper building is collapsing, plans unclear

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A once major part of Quad Cities media history is being torn down.

The east edge of the former Moline Dispatch Publishing Company headquarters, 1720 5th Ave., Moline, is being demolished by Valley Construction. Ryan Hvitløk, director of community and economic development for Moline, said on Monday that the demolition permit was only for the 130 feet east of the building.

Although there has been talk of redeveloping the rest of the building for apartments, the city has not received any plans for what is proposed for the property at this time, he said.

“My understanding is that they are preparing the site for additional parking, to serve an unknown future redevelopment of the site,” Hvitløk said on Monday.

The old east end of the former Moline Dispatch Publishing Company is being demolished.

The old newspaper building (which once housed The Dispatch•Argus•QCOnline) has been vacant since late 2017. The media company announced in September 2017 that it would be moving to East Moline at 1033 7th St., the home of East Moline Glass Co. .

Long owned by the Small Newspaper Group, the newspaper announced on June 19, 2017 that Davenport-based Lee Enterprises Inc., owner of the Quad-City Times, had agreed to purchase the assets of The Dispatch•Argus•QCOnline for 7.15 millions of dollars. These assets did not include the downtown Moline building that had housed The Dispatch since 1922.

“We were determined to remain an integral part of the Quad-Cities of Illinois,” said Times editor Debbie Anselm on September 1, 2017. “Since we announced the purchase, we have emphasized that Dispatch•Argus •QCOnline and The Quad City Times would remain independent publications.

“Today’s announcement underscores the two principles – that the newspapers will remain independent of each other and that Dispatch•Argus•QCOnline will remain in Illinois,” she said.

The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus (whose old building also remains vacant at 1724 4th Ave., Rock Island) were longtime competing newspapers, until Small Newspaper Group bought the Argus in 1986, and the two newspapers switched from evening to morning publication in September 1995.

The City of Moline has not received specific plans for redevelopment of the remainder of the old newspaper building at 1720 5th Ave., Moline (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Lee Enterprises consolidated Dispatch/Argus operations in 2019 in the Quad-City Times building, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport.

Retired former Dispatch/Argus editor John Beydler wrote of his former Moline office building in a July 16 Facebook post:

“I worked there for almost 45 years but I have no particular affection for it, except to see that top journalists have worked there over the decades, publishing a damn good log. A shadow of La Dépêche is still published in another city, but it has little more significance to the community than this abandoned building. Sad times.”

A former economics writer, Steve Jagler, posted:

“The building itself was as indescribable as it gets. The press room didn’t even have a window. We had to go back to the library to see if it was snowing. But it is hallowed ground nonetheless…simply because of the talents and dedication of the journalists who have thrived there.

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