Mercado on Fifth seeks support to make indoor expansion a reality

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Having outgrown its location on Moline’s 5th Avenue, Mercado on Fifth is capitalizing on the momentum it’s experienced over the last four seasons by expanding indoors. 

In late 2019, Mercado, in partnership with real estate development group West Gateway Partners LLC, purchased the former Car Shop Inc. at 423 12th St., Moline, adjacent to the organization’s outdoor property. Mercado and West Gateway, both managed by members of the Ontiveros family, are renovating the 6,300-square-foot building into a business incubator and event space.

“With Mercado’s upcoming summer event series on hold due to the coronavirus, this is a good time to shift our focus to fulfilling a long-term vision of growing our presence in the Quad Cities,” said Mercado President Maria Ontiveros.

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The indoor component will allow Mercado’s food and retail vendors year-round opportunities to sell their products, rain or shine. Mercado Director Melissa Freidhof-Rodgers also anticipates using the space for small business training and mentorship. “The COVID-19 crisis has brought our attention to the need for small business training on best practices,” Freidhof-Rodgers said. “I’m so grateful to be in a position where I can share my industry knowledge with other entrepreneurs.”

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The building’s drop ceiling and all non load-bearing walls have already been removed, exposing the structure’s original steel tresses. In addition, a 5,000-square-foot outdoor plaza will be built on the south (Fifth Avenue) side of the building to make more room for patrons, vendors and cultural programming. Mercado is working with Quad Cities-based Streamline Architects to design the multi-use space.

Last year, Mercado received a $100,000 Transformation Grant from the Quad Cities Community Foundation for the renovation project. Mercado must raise another $100,000 to receive the full award from the Community Foundation. 

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“Mercado has demonstrated how essential it is to celebrate diversity,” said Mercado Board President Jayne O’Brien, who has seen the event and organization grow since the 2016 pilot season. “This development is a major win for the whole Quad Cities region.”

Businesses and/or individuals interested in supporting the project may donate here or download our building sponsorship brochure. For more information, contact Melissa Freidhof-Rodgers at (563) 650-5391.

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