Monday, August 27, 2007

Week-old News: Downtown Residents' Meeting

The meeting last Monday was technically a meeting about the Downtown Living Strategy, which is basically what it sounds like.

The official purpose of the Downtown Living Strategy is as follows:
  • Analyze the current market of housing in Downtown Davenport
  • Survey downtown residents on why they choose to live Downtown
  • Identify constraints and opportunities in the housing market
  • Propose strategies to increase the attractiveness of Downtown as not only a great place to do business, entertain oneself and enjoy the magnificent Mississippi Riverfront, but to live as well
That is taken from the PowerPoint that was shown at the meeting. If you would like to download the PowerPoint file, I've uploaded it here. Just click where it says "Click here to download DowntownResidentMeeting.ppt." The demographic stats suffer from the fact that the last Census was done before any of the new downtown projects got off the ground. Between 1990 and 2000 there were 250 residents added to downtown. Between 2000 and now, at least 200 new residential units have been added, so we're probably growing faster during this decade. The PowerPoint also has the early results from a survey that's being taken of downtown residents, although not many have been turned in yet.

One of the key discussions during the meeting was about incentives. Currently, most of the residential projects downtown have been taking advantage of lower/middle income tax credits, but these come with many Federal and State strings attached. It was debated whether the city should provide incentives to encourage other income levels, in order to create a more financially diverse downtown population. Cities giving incentives or providing cheap space for grocery or convenience stores was also mentioned, since this could leverage more private residential development. Right now its kind of a chicken/egg conundrum, with residential waiting for more shopping options, and retail waiting for more residents. Another issue was that currently I believe there is a total of 1 condo for sale downtown. Some people would like to live downtown, but want to buy their home instead of rent. Right now, unless they want the Bucktown Loft, those people are out of luck.

This led to another discussion that took up much of the meeting. As you would guess, most, if not all of the people at the meeting were pretty pro-downtown Davenport. Several people there wanted to live downtown, but were unable to find market rate apartments or condos. It was pointed out that the market-rate units at the Crescent Lofts, Mississippi Lofts, and CityView all have virtually no vacancies. I wondered why developers, or banks, seem unwilling to build and finance new market rate residential downtown. I used my usual example of the $150,000+ condos behind HyVee on Eastern. I feel that a project like that (3-4 stories $150-200k condos), redesigned to fit downtown or on the edge of downtown, would be a huge success. So did most of the people at the meeting. The area in between the Crescent Warehouse District and the CityView would be perfect for something like that.

What ended up coming out is that we were all pretty confident in the downtown housing market, but it doesn't seem like the money people (banks and developers) are willing to take a risk and deviate from their safe suburban developments. I feel that once someone gets the nerve to lead the way, things will go rapidly from there. If one developer builds a market rate apartment building downtown, and its full within 6 months, other developers will take note. The same goes for condos. Then retail and restaurants will also take note, and then things could really start to snowball. We all felt like downtown Davenport is right on the edge of that kind of success, but it just needs that last little nudge.

19 Comments:

At 8/27/2007 7:48 AM, Anonymous Shelley said...

Its too bad that you didn't make it to the New Market Tax Credit workshop at the NCRC conference. There were great examples of projects that include mixed income, condo, and retail development. My colleague Irvin Henderson talked about his experience in several small US cities with new construction and adaptive reuse. The National City Community Development Corporation bankers spoke with their partners about projects they have done-including in Rock Island. It isn't rocket science-but it might be close. You are right about having the financial community be populated locally with decision makers. We had a good group of regional and national staff-not much local presence, but we are hoping that going forward we will see some action. Our tour included the warehouse districts on the Davenport side. It also included west of Gaines-a real area for targeted investment. Sounds like an interesting meeting-I can't tell from the map-how far west does it go?

 
At 8/27/2007 7:58 AM, Anonymous Shelley said...

BTW-it was also encouraging to see four CANDIDATES for alderman and mayor in attendance both days. The only sitting city council member that attended was Ian Frink (doesn't surprise me). Because the City sponsored the conference-every alderman had the opportunity to attend, many signed up, but didn't show.

 
At 8/27/2007 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shelly - good points, however, at teh same time as encouraging investment we must deal with our out of control homeless and vagratn population too. John Lewis attracted many here for there services and now they are done for. People don't want to live so close to vagrants who beg from them. We need to deal with public safety at the same time as creating investments.

 
At 8/27/2007 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing your example of the condos at Hy-Vee lacks is the cost of the land. I don't know how much the land off Eastern cost but usually a smaller infill spot that was overlooked years ago can be bought up pretty cheap. I am saying this in the form of a question. Is the land you speak of available or are their multiple homeowners that would have to be bought out? Would you have to knock down houses or buildings? Is the property value higher because of the proximity to downtown? Or do developers just not think to even look for affordable land down there?

 
At 8/27/2007 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not see our sitting alderman there to represent the residents of the downtown (3rd ward). It does not surprise me. He has his own agenda. For the downtown to grow with residents, it takes jobs. Ya know, like the 250 jobs Meyer thinks is bad for Davenport. Or better yet, maybe even in the 3rd ward he "represents." (cough, cough)

 
At 8/27/2007 3:50 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

The area goes over to Warren, it looks like.

 
At 8/27/2007 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

has anyone thought about restoring/flipping the older homes downtown to make them attractive to young professionals?
I know that alot of the bigger older homes were sliced up into multiple apartments but would think that they could make some really cool condo duplexes.

 
At 8/27/2007 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:59 - No one is buying that junk. You are a Boom guy obviously. Keith is a good man and if you knew him you would not be saying what you do. Keith doesn't have an agenda - in the other hand, I wonder when the last time Boom got a rub from Lubell and the boys. Hmmm.

 
At 8/27/2007 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meyer announces:

..."I only release public documents."

See comments QCI post "A few things".

 
At 8/28/2007 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what HAS Meyer done for the third ward? Has ANY alderman done anything positive for their ward or have they all been against each other's 'agendas'?
No wonder why Davenport is so negative. Its coming from the 'top'

 
At 8/28/2007 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buying what junk? I was at the meeting, Our representative was not. Meyer only represents his minions that agree with him.

Also....a "rub" from Lubell & boys.....laughing. No really....LAUGHING!!!!
You are the last comic standing!!! hehehe

 
At 8/28/2007 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8/28/2007 4:40 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

I will keep removing your comments if you keep doing that.

 
At 8/28/2007 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pretty selective aren't you?

 
At 8/28/2007 4:53 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Its not up to you to reveal IDs.

 
At 8/28/2007 5:02 PM, Anonymous Walnut said...

QCI, Just asking, What would you like to see in a candidate for mayor? Is age a factor? What is some of the key issues that you would like detailed?

 
At 8/28/2007 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you're fine with homephobic attacks.

 
At 8/28/2007 5:20 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Walnut, that's an interesting question, and I think I'll do a post on it soon. I'll definitely have to think about it first.

5:03, there isn't much on this thread that seems homophobic to me, but maybe I'm missing something. Anyway, that kind of crap just makes the side of the person posting it look bad.

 
At 8/28/2007 5:34 PM, Anonymous Walnut said...

Funny thing, I have yet to hear any candidate offer they're view on the housing stock in Davenport. I see a lot of worn out houses and reality signs. Why? These folks haven't a clue.

 

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