Monday, July 31, 2006

Forrest Block Building news

Here's the QCTimes article.

I've always had a special interest in this block, and I'm glad to see it finally being renovated. Its been falling apart and falling down for nearly my entire life, so it will be a new experience for me to see it looking good and being utilized for commercial and residential uses.

It just makes me wonder how many new projects downtown it will take before the naysayers start realizing that there really is momentum down here, as cliched as that slogan has become.

I've posted a couple of floorplan images:

This first one here is a huge image, but you can actually read most of the text on the floorplan. (56k modem users don't click this one, its almost a megabyte)

This one I've cut down to a size that's a little easier to fit on a computer screen, but it loses some of the readability for the labels.

Monday Morning Midnight randomness

Saw quite a number of folks getting arrested tonight down by the RiverCenter. I checked the events calendar and tonight was listed as "NightClubNow." After a quick google search I found that NightClubNow is basically a 1000 person party at the RiverCenter hosted every once in a while by B100. Tonight was a "foam party" which is essentially a dance party in soap bubbles. Its for ages 14-19, and I couldn't think of 2 ages that are more different than 14 year olds and 19 year olds, but I guess that's up to the parents to decide. Judging by the presence of the paddy wagon, I'd say its not all happy friendly down there.

The city (or whoever owned it) got rid of the Powerball billboard near the Quad City Sports Center and the under-construction skate park. I used to check that one to see if the jackpot was high enough to justify wasting a dollar to dream about winning. I suppose the city decided that a giant billboard didn't fit their idea of Centennial Park.

When I saw the ruckus going on down by the RiverCenter, I wished I had my camera on me. I do have a new cell phone that allows me to get email and internet anywhere I go, (as though I'm someone important) but the camera is sorely lacking even compared to my cheap digital camera. I guess I need to carry my camera at all times... never know when news will happen. Either that or wait until American cell phone cameras catch up with Japanese models.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hot Bix

16,000+ runners head north towards the turn onto Kirkwood after finishing the worst of the Brady Street hill.

Bix preparations

I drove the Bix route this morning and saw a lot of preparations under way. Water stop tables were being set up, last minute gardening was being done, and lawn chairs and folding chairs were being unfolded by the dozen. It was beautiful at 6:3am, but I expect a lot of heat related problems come race time.
The lone (obviously) abandoned house along the route got its plywood-covered windows painted white, probably to be less noticeable in TV shots.
The Kapheim memorial's last race in this particular spot. If people leave shoes in its new downtown location, I could see some downtown outdoor residents helping themselves.

I'm off to take some more pictures of the Quad Cities' biggest weekend.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Junior Bix and Wells Fargo Streetfest

Congrats to all the kids who came out in the hot and humid weather to run around the QCTimes building and surrounding blocks.

Also congratulations to Clayton Lloyd for representing the City of Davenport in the Brady Street Sprint's sponsor race.

I've also got a hint for anyone visiting the Wells Fargo Streetfest. If you want cheap pop and cheap pizza, stop by the Antonella's booth tucked behind the beer tent on the north side of the 2nd and Pershing intersection. Cans of pop are only a buck and pizza is only $2, and it helps support a local (and downtown) business.

Bix Weekend Open Thread

Hopefully I'll have plenty of things to post this weekend, but here's a discussion thread anyway.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Blackhawk Hotel & Waterpark?

I've been meaning to do a post on this, especially after the Times article came out a week or two ago. I delayed, and now of course Bridge to Somewhere has beat me to it! Check out the post over there.

Also, here's the QCTimes article where they mention a possible indoor waterpark.

If the indoor water park and hotel renovation idea was actually to happen, that would be some of the best news for downtown in decades. Not only would that kind of attraction go a long way towards making Davenport a regional weekend trip destination, but it would even get LOCAL people downtown who may not have been there in years. As far as out of town visitors, I highly doubt they'd be able to spend their entire trip in a smallish indoor waterpark, so they'd end up walking around downtown and using our other recently created amenities.

I see many more up-sides than downsides for this project. First of all, the area next to the Blackhawk is perfect for a new building, as its got taller buildings on both sides and won't block anyone's views that aren't already blocked by the casino hotel. It would also do a little bit in filling in the gap between the populated downtown and the soon-to-be populated warehouse loft district. Some people are wondering if that kind of family-oriented hotel will scare away business or convention travelers that are needed to make the RiverCenter a success. I fully agree with Pioneer98 over at Bridge to Somewhere that if Dubuque's convention center is ONLY connected to an indoor waterpark hotel, I'd think ours could manage with a connection to one of those and the Radisson. Maybe the hotel could designate a couple floors just for families, or just for convention/business travelers, if they worried about negative interaction.

I don't know who the "local investors" are that are considering this, but I hope they go full speed ahead on this project.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

One business not afraid of Davenport

Great Escape plans move to Elmore retail corridor- QCTimes

Now that the pool and spa chain has a strong foothold in the Quad-Cities, the Great Escape plans to move out of its Bettendorf store and build a bigger location on Elmore Avenue in Davenport.

Apparently they aren't scared off by pushpins, stormwater fees or speed cameras. I suspect not many people are, despite what folks say on the internet.

4 Year Terms and why I didn't vote

I didn't vote today. I feel guilty about this even though it was a choice I made. I don't like being part of the 88% that didn't vote.

The problem is I just couldn't make up my mind which way to vote. I agree with the points of the Yes folks about constant campaigning and lack of stability from the city council. However, I always hate when sneaky processes are used to try and slip things past those pesky voters. I also wouldn't want to get stuck with an ineffective alderman for 4 years. If the question had been put on the regular November ballot and included an easily understood method for removing truly bad aldermen, I would almost certainly have voted for it. Maybe in 2010...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bix Street Closings Map

This is from the D1 website, but I've resized it so you can view it on a monitor smaller than 70".
Click for a larger version where you can read the street names, although the closures look pretty standard compared to past years.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wundram statue unveiled

I didn't get any good closeup pictures of Bill or the statue, so you'll have to rely on the mainstream media (probably just the QCTimes and KWQC) for this one.

It's been a bad year for people I used to know

Back in February a guy I went to high school with and used to play softball with, Darian Willette, was killed in a bus crash down in Peru. He was down there learning Spanish and teaching English in the village of Cuzco. I still get hits from people google searching his name.

In early July, Tristan Menzl, who I went to grade school and possibly junior high with, was killed out in the Heatherton warzone. I hadn't seen or heard anything about him in probably a decade, but it was still pretty sad to see someone from my past being killed that way.

Now this weekend I read about Michelle White being killed in the old Eagles parking lot in Bettendorf. I actually knew her pretty well back in my later high school years, and almost went to prom with her. We didn't exactly part ways in good terms, so I hadn't heard from her in years. I didn't even know she had a kid now, but that only makes it more sad that this child is orphaned for no reason.

While I started to type out something relating to crime problems in the area, which certainly apply to the Heatherton incident, I really don't feel like interpreting any of this. I just don't like seeing news articles like these, and felt like saying something about it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bix Lives (almost)

Preparations are under way for the biggest weekend in Downtown Davenport's calendar. Tri-City Electric is down there stringing power to all the Street Fest booth locations, and I've been told that the crane on Brady Street will be gone by race day. Here are a couple pre-Bix pix.Boom lifts ready to erect banners and possibly photographers.
Back to our usual subject recently: downtown art. I call this one "Wundram under tarp."

Weekend Open Thread

This is my first weekend in a long time where I'm not doing something, whether it be overtime, traveling, or some kind of family event. I plan to enjoy my free weekend by doing not much of anything.

Also... not to get back into the Push Pin thing, but what's up with Kelli Grubbs saying "“I think it’s hideous" right in front of the person who designed it? I mean... its up to debate whether this is good art, but isn't it good manners not to slam on something right to the face of the artist?

I guess that's why its not called Politeness Enterprises.

I may post a couple images later today of Bix preparations already underway.

...and here's a sunrset image from a couple days ago.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Where in the QC is this? #8

Maybe I'll try to bring this feature back again.It'll probably be solved by the time I wake up this afternoon, but where in the QC is this image from?

"Anonymous" got the right answer a mere 25 minutes after the image was posted, so congratulations.

This continues my streak of "Where in the QC's" being either too easy or too hard, but maybe someday I'll find a happy medium.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Conservative old folks afraid of pushpin

Push pin sculpture plan gets cold shoulder from levee group -QCTimes

Personally, I like the idea of something a little whimsical on the riverfront, but I can also see how some of the older generations would freak out about it. When I first saw it a while back (apparently back when it was yellow) I knew that there would be a lot of resistance to the idea, especially if any city money were involved. I'd like to see it paid for by some of the local bicycling clubs and maybe the CVB or something.

Although it sounds like we won't see it at all if the levee commission has anything to do with it.

Edit at 7am: Check out this Claes Oldenburg gallery for some images of similar pop art sculptures around the world.

Edit at 5pm: Here's a discussion I started about this over at AbsoluteDSM's forums. People from outside the area seem to have a much more enlightened view of this idea.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My reasons for not hating PEDCOR

I was originally going to post some of this as a comment over on this thread about PEDCOR on SoLo, where Ambrose Fulton calls the project an amenity-less future Americana Park.

I would hardly consider this amenity-less, as they're going to have a clubhouse and pool, among other things.

As far as financing, the development is supposed to use Section 42, which gives the developer cheap financing, but as far as I know, not grants, in order to provide housing for people who make less than 60% of the median income for the area. The residents don't necessarily get cheaper rent because of it, but it allows the company to build nicer places than they normally could for people making under $35,000.

The other main reason I'm not opposed to this is that I think low-medium income apartments can be done without problems, if correctly managed. When the apartments were built behind Culvers at 53rd and Jersey Ridge, everyone said it was going to be another Northwood Village, yet there have been relatively few problems there. The Davenport Lofts are a mix of Section 42 and market rate, which the PEDCOR project is supposed to be after the 2nd phase, and due to good management, any troublemakers get the boot as soon as legally possible. It can be done.

There is certainly a large risk with a project like this, but it isn't impossible for PEDCOR to create a successful community. We just have to hold them to all their promises, and verify with other communities that they are good property managers.
Its all about the management.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Speed cameras win, unsurprisingly

Court rules in favor of Davenport speed cameras -QCTimes

This doesn't surprise me at all.

Actually the only thing I was surprised about was that the ACLU would back a lawsuit so clearly destined to fail. There may be legal challenges to the speed cameras, but this wasn't the route to take. The complaint was that the cameras don't prove that you were driving the car, which is necessary under Iowa law for a speeding ticket.

Too bad they aren't speeding tickets...
Just like a parking ticket, it doesn't matter who put the car there, the violation is still on the owner of the car. The ACLU would have been better off spending their money trying to come up with and support a slate of anti-camera candidates for the next election.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday Bits and Pieces

Sounds like a Jimmy John's is probably coming to the area near Marquette and Locust.

The CityView (former Courtland) Apartments are almost half rented already. Hopefully this means that people are willing to pay for a river view and proximity to downtown, which could help the neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

Tuckpointing continued on the Crescent Macaroni building. Ongoing maintenance is definitely a good thing. AC included is also a good thing right now.

Early word is that Sieg Iron Lofts residents may be able to move in around December.

Does anyone know if the crane will be out of Brady Street by Bix Weekend?

No real progress yet on Bechtel-Lincoln Park at 2nd and Iowa. I've been told that the "water" seen on the map is more like cement with fountains shooting through it than actual standing water or reflecting pools.

I almost used a variation of the image on the right to revive "Where in the QC is this?" but decided to just post a near and far view of this sign that I found humorous.

Seems like Jeff Gove has a problem playing golf with 16 year old girls. I greatly prefer Joe Ogilvie's quote in that article about golf being entertainment. The fact is that when Michelle Wie dropped out, she was ahead of a number of PGA tour members. To me that says she can compete. After seeing that course for the first time Friday, I think I would shoot about 150 if I ever played there. For that reason I shouldn't ever be allowed to play there.

This next piece comes to us from WindingHills
Sports Illustrated finally posted their Road Trip article about John O'Donnell Stadium. They describe the stadium for about 2 paragraphs and then start talking about non-QC-related things. There's also no pictures of the stands, which just makes it look like a baseball diamond on the river surrounded by a berm. Stupid mainstream media...

With the airshow, the Blues fest, JDC, Sturgis and Taste of the QC all behind us, what else are people looking forward to this summer? Just off the top of my head there's still the Mississippi Valley Fair, River Roots Live music festival, and of course the Bix.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday Open Thread

I've been busy this weekend, including spending yesterday at a family reunion in Cedar Rapids' Czech Village. Eating supper at Coral Ridge on the way home always causes me food court envy, but that and Scheels are the only parts of that mall that ever impress me.

Hopefully I'll be able to put together a post about the Blackhawk Hotel early this week, or maybe even late tonight.

Friday, July 14, 2006

John Deere Classic Notes

This was the first time I was able to attend the John Deere Classic, and the first time I had been to the TPC at Deere Run. I enjoy golf, but its too expensive of a hobby for me right now. Plus I'm terrible at it. I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy watching PGA pros live, because I don't generally watch golf on TV. It turned out to be a very enjoyable experience.

In contrast to the baseball game last night, everything at the JDC seemed to run like clockwork. I parked in one of the unofficial lots, and they even had their own shuttle vans to the front gate. The parking lot at Bettendorf High School was served by possibly a dozen Champaign-Urbana articulated buses running quite often. If I had know the shuttles from BHC would be so frequent, I might have parked there.

I watched Michelle Wie birdie the 8th hole, and then saw her sit down on her bag while media types actually ALLOWED to bring their cameras in snapped pictures of her looking sick. I was about 50 feet away when she consulted with her parents and then withdrew from the tournament, and then I watched the media types chase the golf cart that carried her to the medical tent. It was really a shame that she had to withdraw, as she was doing pretty well today. It probably gave other golfers much bigger galleries than they would have had otherwise though. Hopefully her unfortunate health issues this time don't discourage Michelle from returning here like Tiger's underage gambling incident did with him.

It was so great to see people from all over the country and even the world coming to the Quad Cities to see something like this, and I wished I had my camera about every 5 minutes just to take pictures of the crowds of people enjoying the event. I'll definitely be returning next year, and maybe I'll apply for a media pass or something... I hope everyone interested in golf gets a chance to make it over to the tournament, and I hope that everybody stays safe in tomorrow's dangerous heat.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

JOD drops the ball

I don't know if the Swing front office didn't expect a big crowd, or if every "beverage night" is like this, but whatever happened, they didn't have enough concessions open. You could hardly walk down the concourse, and I don't think that shows JOD's best side to any visiting JDC folks. I know Chris DiMarco and another PGA player were supposed to throw out the first pitches (?) but I didn't see them standing around anywhere during the game.

At one point Kevin Krause was working at a hastily-opened concessions stand that only had a 10 minute wait instead of the 20 minute wait at the others. What nobody knew though, was that it was a beer and water only line. So after waiting 10 minutes to get your hot dog, you got told you had to go to a different concession stand. I tried to tell him they should put up a sign covering the menu saying "Beer and Water only," but it didn't happen.

I'll just summarize by saying that despite having a large and enthusiastic crowd, it wasn't John O'Donnell's finest hour.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

DIPA Meeting

As was posted over on Solo, the Davenport Income Property Association had its first meeting last night. After a quick invocation, the meeting started off with the 22 or so people in attendance introducing themselves and explaining why they were there. The majority were either landlords or friends of Walter Skovronski, or in many cases, both. Mr. Skovronski made a few comments about how Davenport has enough rental properties to support its own landlord association, and then passed out a list of the 10 reasons for starting the organization, which I've posted here.

After discussing what levels of memberships could be available, and their costs, including a fee to the state landlords association, Casey Jacobi from Mautz Paint spoke about vendor memberships. This would allow businesses like Mautz Paint to provide a group discount to members of DIPA. Mr. Skovronski mentioned a few other local businesses that might be interested in similar deals when the group gets big enough.

Next on the agenda was choosing a temporary Treasurer and Secretary, which people weren't exactly jumping out of their seats to volunteer for. I'm not sure if anyone was finally picked for Treasurer, but I believe Pat Egly was selected as the Temporary Secretary. Following that, more organizational plans were debated, and a Mission Statement was chosen. DIPA hopes to have a website, so a preliminary draft of what might be included on that was passed out.

Finally, the night's discussion topic was started, which was the 4 year term elections. Not everyone spoke on this, but if I had to guess I would say the people there split about 65-35 against the idea. It was clear that many of them were fine with 4 year terms as long as it was their type of Alderman, but not if it was someone they disagreed with. A return to partisan elections was proposed, which I think is one of the least logical ideas I've ever heard for reducing the amount of animosity on the council. Instead of having council members accused of being owned by D1 or QCRPA, we'd KNOW that they're owned by Democrats or Republicans. If you want to be certain that someone's got people in the background pulling strings, I guess that would be a good step. However, back to my play-by-play of the meeting.

Overall I'd say it was a good meeting. There wasn't an excessive amount of hostility towards QCRPA, but it was clear that the people in attendance weren't happy with the way things are being done in that group. Everyone was advised to bring a friend or fellow landlord to the next meeting, with a goal of having a starting membership of at least twenty. The Davenport Income Property Association is off to a slow start, but now that its up and going I could see it becoming a real alternative to the dirty tactics of the QCRPA.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Coming Tomorrow:
Davenport Income Property Association meeting

This image could show the beginning of an alternative to QCRPA. I'll post my thoughts on the meeting tomorrow.

Davenport Lofts Front Yard

I meant to post something about this last month when it was completed, but anyway, here's the final streetscaping in front of the Crescent Lofts.
When I heard it was going to be grass between the sidewalk and street instead of brick I wasn't that pleased, but it turned out really well. I just didn't have anything to use as a reference, since there are no grass boulevards downtown. I'm curious to see what happens when the trees get larger.

Now if only you didn't have to walk in the street to get around the loading dock sticking out of the building to the south...

Monday, July 10, 2006

CNN likes New Urbanism

Unlike the QCTimes, CNN seems to appreciate the benefits of traditional neighborhood style developments.

Here's the article.

The demand for such developments is real, and it's only going to get greater as consumer preferences rapidly shift away from the McMansions preferred by boomers. According to a study by the nonprofit Congress for New Urbanism, while less than 25 percent of middle-aged Americans are interested in living in dense areas, 53 percent of 24-34 year olds would choose to live in transit-rich, walkable neighborhoods, if they had the choice. -from the CNN article

Hopefully Prairie Heights is a great success, as I think it has the potential to be, and shows other realtors and developers around here the viability of new urbanism.

Parking Ticket Problems

Only a few cash in on city's ticket amnesty -QCTimes

I don't see how a collection agency is going to waste any time on people with 1 or 2 $10 tickets against them.

Will the city only get $2 of every $10 because of this?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday Morning Open Thread

No images this morning, I'll give you poor dial-up people out there a break for once.

What's new in the QC that hasn't made the blogs or mainstream media?

Friday, July 07, 2006

8 Houses on death row

I found these under the City of Davenport's Current Bids area. There are bids due Monday for the demolition of these 8 houses. I took an interesting drive/scavenger hunt yesterday through some areas that I don't spend much time in to see what's bad enough to be torn down. Hopefully I haven't mixed any of them up while uploading.

801 W 6th

This one gets second place in the "Which of these 8 needed demolition most" contest.

1827 W 6th (Rear House Only)
This one caused me troubles. Therefore... no image. The neighbors were giving me the evil eye, which is good because it means they're at least paying attention to their neighborhood. I got a picture of a house that should have been 1827, only to remember the "rear house" thing. I wondered why a decent-looking house would be torn down. I believe the rear house must be on the one way alley off of Division.

511 E 7th

Not sure who wrote RUSH on the front, but I could see why.

1417 W 4th

There are way too many houses like this on W 4th Street. A few years back one on this block was for sale on the local realtor sites (they all seem to have each others' listings) for $5,000. I think it might have even been this house.

1630 Belle

3117 Farnam

The solo NoLo home on the list. (follow that?) I'm not sure what the story is with this one, but it looked just as bad as the others.

3211 Pansy

This Garden Edition house gets my award for most needed demolition. It is the last house left on either side of the block that hasn't been bought through the federal flood plain money. Getting rid of it should open up new options on what can be done with this area.

620 Wilkes

All of these are both good to get rid of, but also evidence of failure. Houses should never be allowed to deteriorate to the point where they are no longer feasible to repair.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Freighthouse Lite?

Suddenly we're talking about renovating Union Station.

Here's a QCTimes article about it, and here's the QCTimes posting of a preliminary draft of the plan.

(Image from last summer)       

I try to pay a decent amount of attention to goings-on in downtown Davenport, but I didn't even know we were studying Union Station. RDA paid for the study, so maybe they'll pay for the renovations too. It is in the casino's front yard, after all.

This little tidbit is included in the plan: "Create an events area (between the station and boiler house) and implement the first phase of a weekday public market and other special events." I'm not sure if that means much or not, but it almost sounds like it could be a scaled back version of the public market. Or I could be way off. Maybe I'll just check the Levee Improvement Commission's website... if only it was more than 1 page.

I'm working on a post about how Davenport is trying to include more public input in things, so hopefully this project can lead the way by involving an abundance of community input.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Condos less scary than casinos

Condo project passes muster -QCTimes (Yesterday)

No public comments opposed to the project at a public hearing. This really shows that it is a lot easier to complain on blogs or, as dozens of people did, than it is to actually show up and do something about it. Of course, the public meeting was on July 3rd when people may have had better things to do, but I suspect a crowd would have turned out if this had been casino-related.

I still wish this project would be in a better location, such as downtown, where 8 story buildings belong, but I have a hard time opposing private development on private land. I'm still pretty split on the whole thing. If it was downtown it would be the best news for downtown Davenport since the Mississippi Plaza office building was announced. Instead its going to look oddly out of place in the planned location. Guess some of you angry commenters and bloggers should have showed up to voice your displeasure. Then when they ignore you and approve it anyway you could have at least complained.

Random Notre Dame images

The Golden Dome and the Grotto

"Touchdown Jesus" on the side of the Hesburgh Library, and of course, Notre Dame Stadium, looking pretty quiet without the 80,000 fans that would be there for a game.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Davenport 4th of July (image from the 3rd)

Happy 4th of July folks.
I'm back from the land of Hoosiers and will now be returning to my regularly scheduled blogcast.This was taken from the roof of the Davenport Lofts. (not a great shot, but I got up there late and all the good watching spots were taken)

Submissions of other fireworks images are welcome.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

One for the road

I'm off to Fort Wayne for the weekend, but here's one more image.
Actually I may post some pictures on the trip, who knows.

This is Palmer's new Chiropractic Learning Resource Center, under construction along Brady Street. Learning Resouce Center sounds like a library to me, and I've called it that before. However, I've recently learned that that isn't what it is going to be. There are webcams at Palmer's site here.