Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A little bit on crime, from QCI for a change

Last night around midnight, a stolen car was spotted in SW Davenport. It was trailed, I believe by an undercover car, until it pulled into the drive-thru of the Burger King on Rockingham. At that point the police were going to try and box it in in the drive-thru lane, but from what I've gathered, the suspects had other ideas. They must have driven over the curb or somehow gotten past the police, although they then smashed the car into a concrete barrier and fled on foot. At least one, and possibly both, were caught after a foot chase. I missed a few things on the police radio, because I do occasionally have work to do at work. I did talk to someone who drove by soon after it happened, and they said the car looked totaled. I don't think they rammed one of the police vehicles, or else it would probably make the news.

I would suspect that the occupants of the stolen car figured the police would be unable to chase them if they drove off, but stolen cars are one of the precious few things that can be pursued in Davenport. This incident just highlights how frequently criminals are running from the cops at this point. If you're wanted for something serious, there's almost nothing to lose by running. Chances are you'll get away, and live to commit a crime another day. I've even seen it happen right outside my window here at 5th and Iowa.

I've said it before, but I believe the strict limits on high speed pursuits are contributing to crime in Davenport. However, the other side would ask, "What if something terrible happens in a high speed pursuit and an innocent bystander is hurt or killed?" This is why officers would need to use their best discretion on when are where a chase is worth the risk. While chases do risk citizens lives, sometimes letting these people get away may risk just as many. How can we stop the crime problem in Davenport when we're literally letting the criminals drive away?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Frink Ward Meeting tonight

From Alderman Frink:
(or Alderman Frank, according to the Alexander Company)
You are invited to attend my "all wards" meeting from 6:30-8 pm, Tues. Jan. 30th, at the Fairmount Library (3000 N. Fairmount) in the 2nd Ward. The meeting will be open to citizens from throughout the community and will center on recent council items and any other interest from the public. I will be joined by Ald. Hamerlinck, a representative of the DPD, and others.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Saturday Des Moines Trip Review

As I've mentioned before, I spend a decent amount of time on the AbsoluteDSM online forum, especially in their section for Iowa Cities and Development. (other than Des Moines) Occasionally people from the forums get together to tour projects in DSM and generally have a good time. This is the 2nd forum meet I've attended. People from Iowa City and Waterloo also made it over to Des Moines, despite the wind and some snow.

Our first stop was the new White Line Lofts, which is a condominium project on the edge of downtown Des Moines. The developer turned a 7 story warehouse into a 9 story residential tower. The unit prices range from $130,000 all the way up to $1.3 Million for each of the 9th floor halves. Seems like a fortune, especially considering housing prices in the QC area, but they do provide quite a nice view.Its amazing to think of people dropping 5 or 6 hundred grand, or more, for a condo downtown. The $1.3M condos are around 4000 square feet each, which still comes out to about $325 per square foot. Contrast that with the remaining Bucktown Loft condo, which is $235,000 for 2800 square feet. That comes out to a measly $84 per square foot. Considering the beautiful Mississippi river view, its practically a steal.

After the White Line tour, we were able to check out an interesting project just outside of downtown that combines the condo conversion of an older apartment building with new condos being built behind it. These are built above garages, and they're calling them Carriage Houses. Here's the thread on AbsoluteDSM with lots of pictures and renderings. Hopefully some day this kind of thing can spread out of Davenport's downtown revitalization.

The third stop was the Alchemilla, which is quite an interesting little townhouse project. It has very unique architecture, and tons of square footage. I believe the unit owned by our host and forum member was around 2400 square feet. The views of downtown Des Moines from the 3rd floor were pretty great too. We were able to talk to the developers from all 3 projects, so it was interesting to hear some of the hurdles they had to overcome in each of their developments.

That was the official end of the meet, but I was able to catch an Iowa Stars AFL hockey game at Wells Fargo Arena with 3 other forum folks. While their arena is bigger than the Mark, at least the QC had a modern arena 10 years before they did. This was my first AFL game, and although I'm not exactly a hockey expert, the level of play seemed fairly similar to the Mallards. Overall it was a great trip, and some of us from outside DSM are hoping to arrange a field trip someday to show off each of our respective metros.

Here's a link to a few photos from the trip on my Flickr page. I'm hoping to get most of the pictures I've taken over the last 2 years uploaded into Flickr at some point.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Something funny for a Sunday morning

This was on the local job listings.
Its probably one job requirement that many Davenport residents are qualified for.

(Click to see what's outlined in red)
Maybe it isn't that funny, but it was to me.

Regular blogging should resume Sunday afternoon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

QC Passenger Rail Service Meeting

Here's a couple pictures for now, I'll try and write a little something on this subject sometime this weekend. The meeting was packed, which sends a real message about our desire for Amtrak in the QC area. Hopefully Senator Durbin makes this a high priority. I had almost forgot Illinois had another senator...

Here's a couple pictures for now, I'll try and write a little something on this subject sometime this weekend. The meeting was packed, which sends a real message about our desire for Amtrak in the QC area. Hopefully Senator Durbin makes this a high priority. I had almost forgot Illinois had another senator...

Friday Open Thread

Tomorrow I'm off to Des Moines for another get-together with the folks from AbsoluteDSM. One thing Des Moines doesn't seem to have is the highly negative vocal minority like we have around here. Its kind of nice.

Here's a business opportunity for those of you $11,042,460 laying around under your mattress. That only comes to a little over a quarter million an acre for what are probably the hottest 39 acres in the Iowa Quad Cities. You can be the next Steve Schalk.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Firefighting, world-traveling,
rental-inspecting supermen

Here's a QCTimes article about an idea for Davenport to provide some of Bettendorf's fire protection. As usual, there are pros and cons to this idea. Leading the con list is the fact that we've already saddled our fire department with rental inspections, probably to the detriment of Davenport's safety. Do they need even more work? Then there's the mention of another town yet that's also interested in something like this.

On the other hand, Davenport currently responds to big Bettendorf fires under mutual aid, for free. Why not set up a formal system where Davenport actually profits from what we already do. This proposal would only involve structure fires, which happen fairly infrequently. Also there's the money aspect. $102,000 is nothing to sneeze at, although not even enough for 2 new firefighters.

Why do you folks think? I'm sure most people will jump all over this in the usual negative way, but maybe there's room for a few thoughtful comments too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Anonymous's Review of the NEO Meeting

Hopefully Anonymous doesn't mind me reprinting this comment which he/she made 2 threads down. If anyone else has a response to the meeting, or disagrees with this summary, here's the place to post it.

Anonymous said:
For those who want to know, the last NEO meeting went off without a hitch. No real changes happening that are not being done already. The tenants will be informed with a check list left behind by the housing inspector. Some items include trash inside the house, missing batteries in smoke detectors, storage of gas in the house, and bedrooms in the basement/attic. Eleven items in all. If the tenant doesn't correct the violation, they may get a citation equal to a $30 ticket that he won't have to pay until he tries to get his drivers license renewed. Mike Ryan made it a point that the landlord understands that rental housing is a business and the city will not become a mediator or eviction processor. The landlord needs to run his business and he is ultimately responsible for all that goes on at their properties. Now for all nuisance trash and vehicles you must call public works and the police department for a response. All in all, this was a lot simpler when the old NEO was running it. "One call got it all" What a mess!

Funny to see exactly who of the aldermen showed. Frink for the first and last meeting, Meyer for the second meeting, and Howard and Ambrose for approx 10 minutes of the first one and thats it .I suspect this will become a hot topic at election time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

4th Street Lofts Grand Opening

Update: Here's the QCTimes article on the event.
And here is Pioneer98's post about it.

Today was the grand opening of the newest Alexander Company project, the 4th Street Lofts. This building is located on the north side of 4th between Pershing and Iowa. From what I'm hearing, 20 of the 53 apartments were already spoken for prior to the grand opening and all the media coverage that it will bring. If you're hoping to get an apartment in the Crescent Warehouse District, you'd better get one while there's any left.D1 Redcoats, Alderman Frink, David Vos, and others cutting the ribbon in the indoor parking garage.

A decent-sized crowd for speeches and a ribbon cutting, and the view of downtown from the rooftop deck.

A couple shots of apartment interiors. The industrial urban loft look isn't for everyone, but its a hit with many people.

4th Street Lofts Groundbreaking

In less violent news, don't forget to stop down and check out the new 4th Street Lofts.

The open house goes from 4-6:30PM tonight.

The FN303 Less Lethal System

In case any of you were wondering what this "FN303" gun that was mentioned as being used by the police in some of the articles about the mall incident is, here's a little bit of info.

From Wikipedia:
The FN 303 is a semi-automatic less-lethal launcher manufactured by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. (FN)

The FN 303 uses compressed air to fire projectiles from a 15-round drum magazine. It is designed to incapacitate the target through blunt trauma without causing critical injuries, and is most widely used for riot control and other kinds of combat where lethal weapons should be avoided. The 303 can be fired from the shoulder using adjustable iron sights, or it can be mounted in an under-barrel configuration on most assault rifles when its stock assembly is removed (in this configuration, it is designated M303).

To the right are some of the different types of rounds available. You can't quite tell from the image, but the gray part of the 303 round is made up of tiny balls of Bismuth, (lead-free lead) and the clear part shatters on impact, which diminishes the force. I haven't been shot with one, but I'd imagine it still doesn't feel very good. For better info on the 303 ammunition and much better images of the rounds, check out this link to FN's site.

The Davenport Police Department has several of these, and I believe that at least 2 cars have them out on the street at any given time. I am not entirely sure of this, and maybe someone more in the know could correct me. What I do know is that the intended audience/targets, IE scumbags, gangsters, etc, know all about this weapon. During the unfortunate tenure of QCLive in the Freight House, they had a weekly event which I forget the name of. It might as well have been called gang member night, so the DPD would usually send a small force down there around closing time. Sometimes an officer would simply carry around the FN303, and it would scare many people off, or keep them from trying anything. The sight of the launcher alone is usually enough to frighten people who haven't seen it in action before.

Hopefully we're not headed for a time where police need to all carry these weapons, but even then I guess we'd still be ahead of the many countries where police are armed with AKs or submachine guns.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Downtown Davenport in the snow

I worked up the courage to venture out into the snow for some downtown images.

I also uploaded a total of 13 images to Flickr here, so check that out if you want.

This one almost looks like I knew what I was doing.

Not many other people as stupid as me out in the snow.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

No images Open Thread

I'll give you WebTV and dialup folks a break on load times and make a post without images today.

There's surely stuff to talk about, and even some riverfront news out of Bettendorf. The city wants to take a $200,000 loss on the former white cliffs of Bettendorf site and allow an existing riverfront industry to expand. If that happened in Davenport, some people's heads would explode. What the article doesn't mention is how many new jobs this expansion would bring, although I would guess only a handful. One of the more interesting things is that IOC was willing to buy the same property for 50 grand more, because they feel that they're going to grow so much that they'll need an additional entrance in the future. I guess that means they're committed to the Bettendorf riverfront at least.

Reading the recent talk about the QCI Airport, I wondered if there was anything else around here that we could get nearly unanimous agreement on? The Mississippi Valley Fair? The air show? We saw last summer that the Bix is no longer universally loved. It seems like very few things are.

It seems like all I hear at work is football talk. Anyone else out there ready for baseball Spring Training?

Friday, January 19, 2007

3 Old Buildings

The Freight House
It will be great to see a new attempt at making something of the Freight House, considering its location right in the heart of downtown and the riverfront. The venues that have failed in the past didn't make as much sense as the current plan, and Penguin's is already an established comedy club, so that should bring in an existing customer base. This highly visible location has got to be better than their previous location tucked away in the corner of IOC's former outlet mall.

I also look forward to eating at the planned mid-priced restaurant. Downtown could use something between places like Mac's and Boozies and places like Centro, Duck City and Savitri's. The failure of 225 at the Figge should show that we've got enough expensive food downtown for now. I think Davenport will be able to find funding to improve the west end of the building to compliment the outdoor farmer's market with restrooms, cold storage, etc. Maybe some volunteers can be found to help paint the boxcar to save the city some cash on that front.

The Rock Island Armory
Unfortunately, I agree with today's QCTimes editorial that the armory should be let go. Davenport already has the bandshell in LeClaire Park, and the RiverVision plan envisions an amphitheater facing the river west of Marquette sometime in the distant future. Is it just me or does sitting in between the walls of the armory with no roof not sound like the greatest venue? I hate to see any historic building be torn down, but unless they can find a feasible use that makes more sense than an amphitheater with the styling of a bombed out building, it has to go.

Former Roederer Warehouse, now 4th Street Lofts

320 East 4th Street
The second phase of Alexander Company's plans for the Crescent Warehouse District is having its official grand opening this coming Tuesday from 4-6:30PM. Frequent Lofts critics should come and check out what they've been bashing all this time. This building takes the total to over 120 apartments that Alexander Company has added to downtown Davenport. I hope to see many of you there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

3 Unlrelated Articles

Three newspaper articles today that people may want to discuss:

Q-C Airport sets record in 2006 -QCTimes
More good news for our airport, which seems to be growing at a greater rate than the QC area as a whole. Maybe the success will attract more airlines, or provide enough money to improve the older half of the airport. If only they could land that direct flight to Phoenix...

Secret return to Triumph plant in Missouri gets good response -QCOnline (This article may only be available for a limited time)
Pretty interesting stuff. A few aldermen and citizens went down to St. Joes to see what Triumph is like without the dog and pony show they got last time. Apparently it wasn't too bad, although I would have liked to see people who are opposed it visit. Also, they called the night before to ask for a tour, whereas I'd like to see a zero-notice sniff test. I have to believe that technology has advanced to where smells can be taken care of.

City drafts new plan for cameras -QCTimes
They're knocking down some of the fines, which is not a terrible idea. I'm still not really opposed to the cameras, and people need to remember that one judge ruled them legal and one judge ruled them illegal, so its not like its decided yet. I think their use should be more of a political/citizen's choice issue than a legal issue. They only enforce the law. I think people's real problem with them stems from the idea that speeders should be given a sporting chance. I don't think we'd see the same uproar if it had been announced that the traffic division was growing by 3 officers, and a correspondingly larger number of traffic citations would be issued.
Also, if you can't see the warning signs in time to slow down, maybe you deserve a ticket.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Tonight was one of those nights where you just can't wait to get home and get in bed.

Open thread.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fake downtowns are the new malls

The trend hasn't quite made it to the Quad City area, but the hot thing around the country for shopping is "lifestyle centers." The outdoor area at the new Jordan Creek Town Center (mall) in Des Moines is one of the closest examples.

Here's an article from Slate from a couple years ago about the coming of the lifestyle center.
"Like insecure teenagers, malls keep changing their style. They are ripping away their roofs and drywalled corridors; adding open-air plazas, sidewalks, and street-side parking; and rechristening themselves 'lifestyle centers.'"
Here's another article from CNN/Money.

There was talk about getting something like this in Bettendorf near the intersection of 18th and 53rd, but they had to settle for a regular old strip mall. Some of the stores that usually hang out in lifestyle centers include Crate and Barrel, PF Chang's, Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn, and other semi-upscale shops. What you don't generally see are big anchor stores like Dillards or Sears.

I've been a few of these places, mostly in the Phoenix area. Jefferson Pointe is a lifestyle center I've visited in Fort Wayne, IN, which proves that contrary to what makes sense to me, outdoor malls can work in a cold climate. Here are a couple of pictures I took earlier this month of Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, AZ.

This particular complex is interesting because it actually includes residential above the commercial spaces. As the articles state, these lifestyle centers provide a taste of the downtown feel, but because they're private land they avoid any bums or situations to make you uncomfortable.

The recent QCTimes article about the recreational trail plan that was presented for the I-74 corridor touched on this trend. One of their suggestions was turning SouthPark into a lifestyle center that would be connected to both rivers via recreational trails. While I think its an interesting idea, I must say I disagree with this quote from Moline Mayor Don Welvaert: “Enclosed malls are becoming obsolete.” While these open air shopping centers are the current trend, in a region where temps hit 10 below I can't see malls disappearing.

The lifestyle centers I've been to are definitely a better shopping experience than strip malls or Elmore-style development. During nice weather I also feel like they're nicer than traditional malls. This Christmas season I spent a decent amount of time at Northpark trying to find gift ideas, and I can't picture doing this kind of window shopping outside in December. Also, as much as they try, lifestyle centers don't really feel like downtowns. They're fake. It feels almost Disney-esque. I've read that some of these lifestyle centers even have fake parking meters along their "Main Street," for the complete downtown feel. When it comes down to it, I guess I'd rather see fake downtowns than Elmore-style development, but even better would be bringing shopping back to our real downtown.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Assortment

-Tenants are moving into the 4th Street Lofts, and I believe an open house is scheduled for Tuesday the 23rd. More information about the open house next week. As you can see in the image above, the rooftop deck is being installed, and the front entrance was finished earlier this week. There's only 53 apartments to go around, and at least a quarter of them are already spoken for.

-While I was google searching for the year when Davenport started curbside recycling, I stumbled across this article on Public Works Online. Apparently our compost facility is really the cat's pajamas, at least among the composting crowd. It has always been a source of pride to me that Davenport seems to lead the way in recycling.

-Looking at the bids page on the City of Davenport website, there is an RFP for "Fuel Island Relocation Design." As far as I know, the city has 2 fueling places. One is out at that public works center, and the other is downtown near the skatepark off of Marquette. Its almost impossible to tell from the RFP, but I would guess that the city is seeing how much it will cost to move the fuel tank and pumps out of our redeveloping riverfront. That's a good thing. Now if only they can get rid of the former Ruan terminal down there that's being used to store random trailers and junk.

-I'm working on a post about the Moline bike path and Southpark Mall redevelopment plan, in relation to so-called "lifestyle centers."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wide Open Open Thread

Its actually been a few days since an open thread, so here's a place for whatever.

In Blogger news, due to the constant badgering whenever I log in, I'm considering switching to the new version. I'm worried about my 470+ posts being all screwed up after the switch though, so I'm very hesitant. Anyone had a good experience moving a year and a half old blog to the new system?

Added at 6:30: Pioneer98, formerly of the Bridge to Somewhere blog has started a new blog, called InfoSwim. Here's the link. He's got a good article about the Freight House and his own version of the QCT's "Why not here?"

Also, I gave the state reps and such the boot off of my link bar.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More Jillians/InPlay images

Here are 4 more images I found around the web and around my hard drive.

Left we have inPlay Peoria (yes, that big) and on the right is a rendering of InPlay Omaha. I haven't been to that location to know if that's how it turned out, but its from their architect's site, so probably.

Here's a shot of one half of the disco/glow bowling alley in the Scottsdale Jillian's, and a shot of QCI about to reach the top of the rock wall at InPlay Peoria. What you can't see is the wall is only 6 feet tall. Just kidding though, its a good 30 feet and extends through an opening cut through the floor, which opens up the 1st and 2nd floors into each other. Its pretty cool. I like the amount of bowling and pool at Jillian's though.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What GameWorks is and why we need it.
Or at least something like it...

GameWorks, InPlay, Jillian's, Dave and Buster's

If you've never heard of any of these, this is the post for you. These companies are the next generation in arcades. Each of these 4 follow a similar style, although I haven't been to any Dave and Buster's locations. Also, D&B has apparently bought out Jillians somewhat recently.
Here's what wikipedia says about GameWorks:
GameWorks is a chain of entertainment venues featuring a full-service restaurant, a bar serving signature martinis and specialty cocktails, and interactive and state-of-the-art video games and attractions.

Its an interesting business model. During the day, GameWorks is basically Chuck E Cheese. There are kids everywhere, playing skiball, winning tickets, getting prizes, playing racing, shooting, dancing games. As the night goes on, Gameworks slowly transitions into more of an adult atmosphere. The location I've been to the most is in the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, AZ, and that's where my pictures are from. At that location, at some point in the night the 2nd level becomes 21 and over only, and adults are allowed to have their cocktails right out with the games. The Gameworks in Las Vegas, Jillians in Scottsdale and InPlay in Peoria are the other venues like this I've visited, and they all have sports bars or martini bars or some form of adult beverages. During the day you have Pocket Change Park, at night you have an atmosphere vaguely similar to a bowling alley or pool hall. Also, as you can see from my pictures, some of these places are decorated/themed almost to Disney World standards.

These venues can be a place for everyone from kids through teens to young adults. We need things like this in Davenport, and some of these companies tend to build in downtown areas, or even renovate historic buildings, such as InPlay did in Peoria. Something like this could be one more piece of the puzzle when the QC area markets itself as a regional tourist destination. Also, we don't really have any large arcades in the area outside of movie theaters, bowling alleys, Happy Joes, etc. I believe there would be a market for a venue like these, and hopefully one of these companies agrees.

And here are the images:This is the outside entrance to the GameWorks at Arizona Mills Mall.The bottom level has most of the modern arcade games, whereas the top level has the sports bar, restaurant, and a lot of retro (think PacMan) arcade games.
Looking down from the upper level at the ticket-based games area, and prize counter. You can also see some of the restaurant across the way on the upper level.
The stairs up to to the sports bar, which shows off the kind of themed architecture that GameWorks uses.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Something we should be proud of

Hopefully this is something we can all agree on, but we'll see.

We have a very nice airport for the size of our metro. These images were taken in response to a discussion over at AbsoluteDSM where it was revealed that our airport is somewhat nicer and more modern than the Des Moines airport, even though it has more flights. When visitors may be expecting to land next to crop dusters and barns, their first impression of the Quad Cities is a clean and modern airport. I think that's a good thing.

The terminal, as seen from the taxiway.

Art in the airport, in the form of a mural and terrazzo floor with a map of the QC area.

The A and B concourses. These shots were taken at 11:15 or so, so they're empty. They're always pretty empty due to non-passengers not being allowed past security post-9/11.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

QC in 20 Years

Lets hope not.

The only previous time I had been to Las Vegas was probably 11 years ago or so (when I was around 13, for those trying to figure that out,) and I remember it being a lot cooler back then. Not being able to walk 2o feet without being mobbed by guys trying to hand me advertisements for various hotels, strippers, credit cards, hookers, shows, etc certainly made me wish for the plain horrible music-playing and smoke-filled Rhythm City Casino. Its definitely amazing how much money runs through Vegas, but its also pretty clear that it comes with a high cost. I wouldn't mind having a couple of their high-rise condo buildings in downtown Davenport though.

Posts hopefully coming up over the next week, mostly after I get back to Davenport:

-Why the QC area needs an arcade/entertainment venue similar to Gameworks or Dave and Busters.
-My belated 2007 wishes for Davenport.
-Probably something about speed cameras

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Hope everyone had a great New Year's Eve back in the QC.

Its tough to get into blogging while out of state, but I hope to put together my 5 wishes for 2007 sometime this week. Also I may put up some non-QC images of Arizona or Nevada.

The image to the right was taken just after midnight (Mountain Time) at the Insight Bowl Block Party in Tempe, AZ.