Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Northeast Downtown Davenport Developments

With today's news that the former River Bend Antiques/Hibernian Hall building is being renovated into more apartments, I put together this map of what's been happening in this corner of downtown Davenport.

Blue are completed renovations, yellow-ish orange boxes are projects currently under construction, and red are announced but not yet started. Labels below the image.
These are all residential conversion renovations of existing buildings.
1. Renwick Building
2. Times Democrat Building
3. John Forrest Block
4. Mississippi Lofts/Adler Theatre
5. Hotel Blackhawk
6. Pershing Hill Lofts
7. 427 Pershing Avenue Lofts
8. 5th Street Lofts
9. Kerker Lofts
10. 4th Street Lofts
11. Crescent Lofts
12. Halligan Coffee Company Building

The block in the center of the image is the assorted collection of buildings formerly owned by TriCity Electric, which moved out to the old Showcase Cinemas site a few years ago. In other words, that block would be pretty ripe for the next set of red boxes, except for the fact that the railroad runs right through it.

Things are certainly going gangbusters for downtown Davenport lately, which might just be enough to bring me out of semi-retirement.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Don't forget, tonight is the Hilltop Campus Village's Fall Music Festival, featuring the Tons 'O Fun Band. Its free, fun, and a great opportunity to see the progress in the Hilltop. The festival is from 5-10PM at 15th and Harrison, across from the new Harrison Lofts.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Big things are coming

Monday, April 15, 2013

How are we getting beaten by Sioux City?

As our city council and RDA bumble and fumble along towards a crappy casino somewhere along the interstate, Sioux City of all places is enjoying 3 developers fighting over the chance to build a casino in their downtown. The decision should be coming this week.

The company behind one of the proposals, Penn Gaming, is currently operating Sioux City's riverboat casino. They're doing such a terrible job of it (sound familiar?) that the city has gone out to find a better option. Penn clearly doesn't get it, as they've submitted something along the lines of the truck stop casino our city "leaders" want to settle for.

The other 2 proposals are worth of Davenport's jealousy, and should make us wonder what the RDA and City of Davenport are doing wrong. Sioux City and its metro area are a fraction of the size of the Quad Cities, and have a far lower population within 100 miles than we do. They also have other casinos fairly close by, although not 3 in the immediate metro area like us. To be fair, the other difference is that their interstate is IN their downtown, so they can kind of have it both ways. That said, I don't see why we can't get something a little closer to these:

One is a Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, utilizing a mixture of new construction and reuse, in downtown Sioux City. It is essentially an addition to the historic Battery Building, as seen on the left. This brings the legitimacy of a national hotel and casino brand while also helping out a historic building.








The final proposal, and one that I would say is the best, utilizes one of downtown Sioux City's largest, and currently underused buildings, the former Warrior Hotel. It also would renovate an additional building next door.


The companies competing for the chance at this casino are publicly campaigning in a way that we barely saw with our casino competition. Some of them have even opened storefronts to push their plan, and have created videos like this one about the Warrior.


Of course, you could argue that we DID have a proposal that was as good as these, from Restoration St Louis, and you'd be right. So we have of course rejected that option, because heaven forbid that Davenport do the right thing lately.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Possible list of stores for Whalen's Elmore Marketplace

I was looking around for some site plans for the hotel and retail complex going up on Elmore, and I found this website. It appears to be one of the developers of the project, and they have a site plan on there, shown below.

Also on that website, they have a downloadable brochure for interested tenants. That brochure has another site plan that actually lists "Proposed tenants." I'd normally say these were just ideal tenants rather than real possibilities, except that some of the sites still show vacant. That says to me that the spots with actual names listed are probably at least spoken for, and quite possibly spoken for by the companies listed. They're fairly impressive but not so pie-in-the-sky as to be out of reach of the QC.


Here's a list of the stores on the above plan:

New to the area:
DSW
Fresh Market
White House/Black Market
Charming Charlies
Banana Factory Outlet
GAP Generation

Already exist in the QC:
Lane Bryant
Cold Water Creek
Children's Place

I was kind of hoping for a Cheesecake Factory, but this still isn't quite the "lifestyle center" that the QC is lacking compared to similarly-sized metro areas.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Recipe for a healthy downtown? Not hardly

Convenience store plan has some people angry -QCTimes

 So, if you follow Retro Quad Cities on Facebook or read the QCTimes, you've probably already heard about the plan to tear down the old gas station at 2nd and Warren and replace it with a new convenience/liquor store. This would make for 3 liquor stores within a few hundred feet of each other centered around Warren Street. In addition to those, there are a couple more within blocks, all loosely centered around the skatepark.
Its such a hassle to stumble that extra 60 feet to the next liquor outlet...
How this seems like a good idea is beyond me, but I'm starting to feel that this city council is beyond understanding in general. On the east end of downtown, the Crescent Warehouse District (Number of liquor stores: 0) is succeeding to a level that even I barely predicted. Within a couple years we could be looking at a situation where the east end of downtown has run out of buildings to be renovated. The Hilltop Campus Village is making great strides to the north of downtown. That leaves west as the only direction left for future expansion and gentrification. Instead of preparing for this, it seems like the council intends on following a textbook recipe for blight. At least they could try to mix in some payday loan joints, pawn shops, and plasma centers to get the whole scene they seem to be seeking.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pro-downtown Casino Commercial

Davenport Casino from Jarred Gastreich on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

One person NOT to vote for

I'm not doing anything in the way of endorsements this year, although anyone who knows me could pretty easily guess most of them.

What I am doing, is one un-endorsement. Mark Nelson, who is running for the Iowa House in District 93. Just in case anyone has forgotten about this enemy of Davenport, check out this blog post from 2009.

For some reason the QCTimes article linked to in that post has moved, so it can be found here: Blackhawk Hotel project threatened by critical report -QCTimes

Here's a little excerpt:
Significant financing for Restoration St. Louis’ $36 million Blackhawk Hotel redevelopment project was jeopardized by scathing criticism of downtown Davenport’s investment climate that accompanied a commercial real estate appraisal of the nearly century-old building.The appraisal — conducted by Mark Nelson of Roy R. Fisher Inc. — included a cover letter that warned against lending money for downtown projects, said Amy Gill, one of the Restoration St. Louis partners.
“It was horrible, just horrible,” Amy Gill said, referring to the letter. “We had our financing lined up, and he basically screwed us.”

So, in hindsight, we can see clearly that Mr. Nelson's appraisal cover letter was far off base. The Hotel Blackhawk is considered to be one of the best if not the best hotel in the entire state. The residential units were sold out before the building opened. The commercial spaces are filled. The reception halls are booked up. The President of the United States has stayed there. Even the bowling alley is awesome. So... just a little bit wrong on that one, Mark.

Either Mr. Nelson injected his personal political agenda into his job, or he completely failed in his assessment of the project's chances of working with the City. Biased or inept, it doesn't matter, he certainly doesn't deserve to represent Davenport.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Real news happening

Jeez, go out of the country for a week and one of the biggest stories in Davenport political and development news comes along with this potential casino sale. I'll write a little more on it later, but I wanted to post that tonight (Monday) at 6:30PM (in about 90 minutes actually) there is a meeting at the Adler about the casino acquisition plan. Better head down there if you want to make your voice heard before Wednesday's council meeting.

Monday, October 08, 2012

2012 Fall Drive: Maquoketa Caves

This is about the perfect time of year in the QC for a fall drive. Clear skies and good leaf colors, although it sounds like neither will last too long. This is the first time I've been back to Maquoketa Caves State Park since the caves closed (and then reopened). Now there's about a 5 minute talk you have to hear about the fungal White Nose Syndrome that has been spreading among the bats, and how to avoid spreading it further. Its a pretty good compromise compared to closing the caves.





Friday, September 21, 2012

Hilltop Campus Village Fall Music Festival 2012

The Hilltop Campus Village is hosting the 3rd annual Fall Music Festival on October 6th, from 5-10PM in the Hilltop Park at the corner of 15th and Harrison. Its been great fun the last 2 years, and it should be even bigger and better this year. The headlining band is the Tons O' Fun Band, which recently played at the Redstone Room, and includes City Planner Matt Flynn. There is also a musical act from each of the colleges in the HCV, Palmer and St. Ambrose.


Here's a commercial KWQC produced for the festival

Sunday, September 16, 2012

QCTimes joines QCOnline in suicide pact

The day has finally arrived. No, not the day that I officially resign from blogging. The day that the QCTimes, and specifically QCTimes.com resigns from being the go-to place for news and community interaction in the Quad Cities region.

Read their explanation of what's happening here

Think about it: What is the most visited local website? It's almost certainly QCTimes.com, and the reason for that is that they have always had great, FREE, content. QCOnline has almost always gotten this wrong. They used to have only the last few days' articles available, which caused me to almost never link to them. Why send my blog readers a link that essentially expires in a week. Then they opened up QCOnline for a while, but now they've gone to the same "x amount of articles per month" system that the QCTimes is implementing.

Even though I'm not in the journalism business, I've been following the print media's adjustment (or lack thereof) to the digital world closely. One voice that I've found to be extremely reasoned and knowledgeable on this subject is CUNY journalism professor Jeff Jarvis. He's written a lot of paywalls vs being the website that the community feels they're a part of. I'd suggest looking into his writings if you're interested in this issue. The QCT's online commenting system is a brilliant way of encouraging community discussion and engagement with the news, as wild and crazy as the comments sometimes get. In the first year of the online comment system, I was told by a QCTimes employee that they had over 10,000 usernames signed up. Obviously there are a few folks with multiple names, but that's still a massive number. I'm sure its only higher now. How many of those people who come to QCTimes.com for not only news, but community, are going to bust out their credit cards without batting an eye? The biggest value the QCTimes provides is engagement and relationship with their web visitors, not simply providing content for them to passively view. This encourages people to link to your articles on Twitter, Facebook, and their own blogs, which drive more traffic and more value to your website/newspaper.

One of the most unbelieveable parts of this is that people paying for home delivery are being asked to pay $2 a month for full online access. This will simply diminish the number of home delivery subscribers. Currently I pay around $200 a year for the actual paper newspaper to be delivered to my door. Now they are asking me to pay twice for the same information online. So since I'm not about to pay twice for the same articles, this new system pushes me to drop my $200+ a year subscription and sign up for the online-only, $5.95 a month setup. "$200 or $72?", is the question a lot of home delivery folks are going to be asking themselves. Newspapers' biggest income is still ads in the paper edition. What are these ads going to be worth if nobody gets home delivery anymore? If the circulation numbers drop by 50% will that massive drop in ad revenue be made up by some $6 a month subscription fees? I am not only complaining about this stuff because I like free online news; I am complaining because I want the QCTimes to succeed and prosper in the digital world, and continue providing the generally good reporting they do on local news. This downward spiral of less content->fewer readers->less money->less content is not where I want to see them go.

So what now? Well, in the age of the internet, we have options. Twitter and Facebook have already become important places that people go for news, both in link form, and firsthand accounts.  Patch.com is a local news site owned by AOL that hasn't taken off here, probably due to the QCTimes making it unnecessary. Blogs aren't going away, and in fact this one might be coming back from the dead to provide free and unlimited news to people disappointed in paywalls and limits triumphing over community engagement.. The movement of that "around the watercooler" discussion from blogs to the QCTimes comments made this blog less exciting for visitors and myself, so maybe the death of the QCTimes website will bring back local blogging. Or maybe everyone will think $6 a month isn't too bad. We will see.

In that mean time, I'm planning to be a little more active on Facebook, so I'd suggest all of you "Like" QuadCityImages at www.facebook.com/QuadCityImages