Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Assortment

First of all, the Design Center is out of Davenport Architecture book, but still may have a few copies of "Davenport: where the Mississippi runs west" left. I'm glad to see the interest that people had for these books. It makes me think there are more than a few of us out there who are interested in that kind of thing.

Don't forget: Tomorrow morning is March's Winter Farmer's Market at the Freight House. It starts at 10am and lasts until 3pm, and is located at the west end of the building, near the new playground.

Here's a somewhat long article from The Atlantic called The Next Slum? about the potential for the fall of suburbs. It covers a wide variety of subjects, from increasing gas prices to the fact that when people think of "hip" or "trendy" places nobody thinks of the suburbs. Ask someone my age whether a downtown loft condo or a house in "Eastern Avenue Farms" is the cooler place to live. The name "Eastern Avenue Farms" reminds me of the saying that most suburbs are named after the geographic landmark they destroy.

A preservation-minded reader sent me a link to this page
about the renovation of 822 Gaines by the Gateway Redevelopment Group
. If Reverend Marty thinks 2101 Main is bad, his head would explode if had walked through this home before the GRG got ahold of it. Oh yeah... with volunteer labor (not that a church would have access to something like that) it cost less than $100k to renovate.

Over on Cruiser's blog, former-Alderman Nikolas commented his feelings in defense of Fejervary Zoo. I don't always agree with Mr. Nikolas, and I possibly don't on this topic either, but I do think people are rushing into closing the zoo a little excessively. They already got rid of the truly exotic animals like snakes and monkeys, which was supposed to solve some of the problems. Apparently now they have to ditch "exotic" stuff like wolves. Growing up I always heard stories of my parents panning for gold, riding the donkeys, and other fun stuff at Mother Goose Land, and I think a lot of people would love to see those days return. It will never be Niabi, and I don't think it has ever tried to be. Maybe kids these days wouldn't be into that stuff anymore, but I know that 15 years ago or so I sure would have been. I'd at least like to see some future plans for that park before the city permanently closes it.

Finally, D1 has a list of construction projects going on downtown right now. It can be found at this link. To their list I'd also like to add the continuing work on the Freight House complex, the slow destruction of the cement plant at 4th and Iowa, and the fact that construction is starting on the former Salvation Army building's conversion into loft apartments. Edit: It turns out an even better D1 link, with some of the projects I mentioned, can be found here.


Anonymous said...

I read that article in the Atlantic and found it pretty interesting.

However, to paraphrase a famous saying, I believe concerns about the imminent demise of suburbia are greatly exaggerated.

There is definitely a higher demand among younger professioinals for downtown living - and the aging baby boomers certainly will want to downsize.

But for couples with kids, you still can't beat a nice subdivision with nearby parks, nearby elementary schools and nice big yards. That has been part of the "American Dream" for decades, and it is unlikely to just disappear quickly.

When I was in my 20s, I really wanted to live in a hip loft or condo. But now that I have two elementary aged kids, I love my suburban neigbhorhood and my house that is two blocks from their school, two blocks from a big park and three blocks from Hy-Vee.

And at the rate their still building in north Bettendorf, it looks like many others do too.

One thing I do believe, though, is that concepts like Prairie Heights - trying to mix in commercial, residential and office in a true "community" style - is an awesome idea. We will see, though, if the rather conservative nature of QC homebuyers will make that type of concept work.

Anonymous said...

Alderman Boom
Why doesn't Wells Fargo have to shovel the snow around Taylor School? It hasn't been done all winter. That is in the Third Ward.

Anonymous said...

What disbtrubes me about the house on Main Street is I can not help but wonder why no one pursued getting this house properly documented months or years ago to keep it standing. When the church decided to remove it several special interest groups came forward to fight the removal of it. If this house is such a treasure it should of been protected years ago. This should not of become an issue for the council to decide on. The fact is it is owned privately and the special interest groups let this house fall through the crack by their own neglect. It will be a shame to see it removed, but it is private property.

Anonymous said...

Lets hope they can do it. The property may not be worth the cost of the rehab when it was done. If it were up to me I would just knock it down. It has NO historical significance, its just old.

Anonymous said...

But for couples with kids, you still can't beat a nice subdivision with nearby parks, nearby elementary schools and nice big yards.

Nearby parks and schools are not unique to suburban living. By going urban you only lose the nice big yard. In fact, due to the density, in urban areas you're probably more likely to live near parks and schools than in the suburbs.

I grew up in the QC and now live in NYC with a spouse and kid. In my neighborhood there are several elementary schools at least half a dozen parks in walking distance. The parks have all kinds of playgrounds and sports facilities (not to mention tons of kids of wildly diverse backgrounds). While we probably won't stay in NYC forever because of the cost (I simply can't see myself being able to afford $1.5MM for a decent 3BR apartment), I have very little desire to own grass.

I'm not some NYC-centric jerk. I certainly see the allure of the suburbs for some folks, and would probably prefer to live in a smaller city than NY for the more reasonable economics and greater sense of community. But as my family starts to outgrow my current apartment and we think about where we want to live next, livable urban areas are going to be high on our list of priorities--and owning a lawn will be absent.

Yes, suburbia has been considered the "American dream" for the last half century, a dream that was fueled by cheap energy for heating/cooling those standalone homes, watering those lawns and gassing up the family cars. But suburbanism has peaked. There will always be people who prefer the suburbs (some people just can't imagine raising kids without a yard of their own), but both economics and consumer preferences are pushing many more people away from them.

pioneer98 said...

9:27AM said: "I love my suburban neigbhorhood and my house that is two blocks from their school, two blocks from a big park and three blocks from Hy-Vee.

And at the rate their still building in north Bettendorf, it looks like many others do too."

Have you been out to North Bettendorf to see all that sprawl? I guess Crow Creek Park is within walking distance of some of it, but I'm positive you have to get in a car to go to most schools, stores, etc. I used to live in a condo in Bettendorf off of Tanglefoot, which is much closer to town than that neighborhood, and it was borderline whether I could walk to restaurants and stores. It was definitely more than "a couple blocks", more like 1/2 a mile. I cetainly didn't walk in the winter.

Now we live in Davenport, and we truly are within walking distance of schools, the bike path, 3 parks, restaurants and stores. People are certainly welcome to move to North Bettendorf, but don't pretend its to get closer to amenities like parks and grocery stores.

I read the Atlantic article, too. I thought it hit it right on the head: the retraction from the suburbs doesn't mean all of them will turn into slums. It means some areas of them might, though. Look at Bettendorf: its going to continue to be challenged by the PV school district for folks who want suburban living, and Davenport for folks who want urban living. It may do just fine, but who knows what will happen in the next 20 years.

Matt said...

i was curious about something the other day as i drove on 17th street in rock island. Does davenport have any bike lanes at all? my wife and i bought a home in davenport almost a year ago (we're east side and two blocks NoLo). obviously the riverside path is nice for my spring and fall commutes to work, and the duck creek one is nice for our other recreational rides, but going north and south on a road such as jersey ridge (when it's only one lane, like around the East Village) can be quite a hassle.

QuadCityImages said...

Nope, I don't believe we have any bike lanes whatsoever. We do have a "shared roadway" on Main Street, which may be developed even more as a bike route in coming years.

As far as the suburban comments, Davenport's suburban neighborhoods are almost entirely devoid of parks. There isn't a single city park East of Brady and North of Kimberly. Until Prairie Heights, that is.

Anonymous said...

As far as the suburban comments, Davenport's suburban neighborhoods are almost entirely devoid of parks. There isn't a single city park East of Brady and North of Kimberly. Until Prairie Heights, that is.

Maybe no city parks, but there is the (private) Windsor Crest Club, which has a playground, picnic shelter, tennis courts and pools--all accessible to hundreds of kids by foot or bicycle.

Anonymous said...

What former Alderman Nickolas fails to "remember" is that he and the zoological society promised to fund raise $60,000 per year to support the zoo. That would $360,000 over the last sic years. Grand total to date is $5000. Just a bit short.

Anonymous said...

The Fej zoo is like everything else in this town - if we wanted it bad enough we would commit to it, we would make it happen. If we cared enough to save our history, we would. We frankly don't give a shit. It is obvious with the recent St paul house and fej and ho whard we make people work to renovate and save our older areas of town.

frickin a - why the hell can't we really truly commit to our older areas of town? We have no idea what we are letting go of.

I am sorry, but how flippin hard is it to run a flipping petting zoo that has been a part of out history for years?

Moe said...

I was just going to say what the first anonymous said: it's cool when you are young to live in the downtown loft, but as soon as you get hitched and decide to start a family (if ever) downtown living is not so cool.

Plus, the reason people moved out to the suburbs in the first place was that it costs so dang much to live in the city in most of these big cities. High gas prices won't change that, because over time, the higher gas prices will be worked into almost everything else you pay for (as fuel is a necessary element of almost every other business/service).

I would second the other commenter re: parks east of brady and north of kimberly. Besides windsorcrest, there is the Eastern Avenue lagoon (I know it is slightly south of kimberly, but it's a great park). When you consider the few neighborhoods there are east of brady and north of kimberly, and when you consider how new most of the construction is out there, there really wasn't a need for a public park until recently. Now the need has arisen and the Prairie Heights park is going up (I think the city has owned that property for along time, too, so the only reason we haven't had a park sooner is because the city is so dang slow).

But a good article.

Anonymous said...

Being hitched with kids in a downtown loft may not be the ideal scenario, but that's not to say that moving out to the edge of civilization is the best alternative either. There are plenty of wonderful areas in Davenport established in the early 1900s that are mature and provide a safe environment to raise a family. Keeping these areas strong is an essential part of ensuring the viability of the core city.