Friday, June 19, 2015

The Good ol' Days are back again

It was Throwback Thursday yesterday, except instead of old pictures, this one entailed a return to a City Hall full of casino-related drama and calls for Craig Malin to resign. Since "Casinos, City Hall Drama, and Calls for Craig Malin to Resign" could have been the title of this blog for most of its active existence, I figured I would put in my 2 cents on the matter.

If you haven't been following, here's a QCTimes article on the latest issue. Essentially, Mayor Gluba called a press conference to say that Craig Malin mislead the council on the fact that in addition to repaying the Dan Kehl for extending Elmore Avenue from where it currently ends all the way around to Jersey Ridge, the city would also be paying them back for the grading costs of their own land. The QCTimes have posted a bunch of relevant documents, including the addendum to the development agreement that spells out the inclusion of the grading costs. While there's some legalese, a careful reading of the addendum makes it pretty clear that the city is on the hook for the grading costs. Whose idea that was (I assume Kehl's), who negotiated it, who was told about it, or mislead about it, etc, are not included in the document. What is included... is this:
So... no matter how mislead he was, nearly a year ago Mayor Gluba signed off on a document that spelled out what he claimed not to know until 2 days ago. I'm not sure if he didn't read it, or was assured by Malin that it didn't mean what it clearly said. Now he wants Malin out, and is doing it in the typical press conference way that he does things. I've defended Mayor Gluba to a number of people on a number of issues, and I've criticized him as well. It seems like he's been acting a bit more erratically in the last few months, and I'm not including his vetoes in that. Nothing as serious as removing the City Administrator should be decided in 2 day's time, which appears to be what's happening here. There's no hurry here. Nothing will be gained by firing Malin today, vs next week or next month. Why not take some time and look into it a bit more?

Asking around yesterday, the consensus I heard was that he may have enough votes to carry this out, but it seems from their public statements that Aldermen Justin and Boom may not be voting for Malin's removal, and only 2 more votes to keep him (Meeker and Gordon?) are required for Gluba to lose this battle, further damaging is credibility. I honestly have no idea how the vote will go, and I'm not as in tune with what goes on at City Hall as I once was. If there's one thing anyone following Davenport politics over the last 14 years should know, it's not to bet against Craig Malin winning battles to keep his job.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday! This picture was posted exactly 9 years ago. It was taken from the Crescent Lofts, and you can see that a lot has changed in that time. The new YMCA daycare is under construction, several buildings have been demolished within the W.G. Block property, and River Gulf Grain and Builders are gone from the riverfront. There will be even more changes in the next 9 years, as the new YMCA is built, Harbor View is renovated, the rest of the Block property is developed, and a new pedestrian bridge is built across River Drive. Pretty exciting stuff!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Silents at the Bettendorf Library: Charlie Chaplin

 The Bettendorf Library is hosting a celebration of Charlie Chaplin's silent films this afternoon and evening. They've made this clever video as well. This is one of those great examples of the small world that is the Quad Cities, as this video involves people from my childhood and adult life who are connected by the Bettendorf Library.


There are activities in both the afternoon and evening - drop in for any or all! All library events are free, family friendly, and open to the public.

Bettendorf Room
3:00 pm: Lecture: Charlie Chaplin and Slapstick Comedy
On Faye’s Field
4:30 — 6:00 pm: Pie throwing fundraiser
4:30 — 6:00 pm: Face painting
4:30 — 6:00 pm: Kids' crafts
4:30 — dusk: Carnival picture "booth"
8:00 pm: Josh Duffee & His Orchestra
8:30 pm: Kid Auto Races at Venice, accompanied by The Josh Duffee Orchestra
8:50 pm: Silent Short film contest winners and awards
9:05 pm: The Kid, accompanied by organist Dennis Scott
In case of inclement weather, all activities will move indoors.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Davenport's new Ferris Wheel is almost done

Not much has been visibly happening on Modern Woodmen Park's new Ferris Wheel over the last week or two. Here's a shot of it from this morning.

But then what did I notice in the parking lot?

A flatbed full of Ferris Wheel cars waiting to be installed. Looks like this thing is going to be completely pretty quick. I'm looking forward to getting some new photo vantage points from the top.

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:
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.