Monday, July 28, 2008

A few Bix Pix

For the last 3 years, I've watched the Bix downtown. Watching the start from the Midamerican parking garage is one of the most exciting things, and it usually makes for good pictures as well. I also enjoy the sound system down there that updates you on the progress of the race, and the fact that a quick walk over to 3rd street will allow you to see the finish as well as the start. This year I decided we'd watch it from somewhere else. I couldn't decide between the top of Brady, or near the turnaround on McClellan, but as you can see below I ended up going with the turnaround. Here are a few images from that area.
Volunteers setting up hundreds of cups of water before the race. One thing I did like about where we sat was the view of the Mississippi in the background.

The leaders coming into view, and some people a bit farther back in the pack, along with the empty cup wreckage.

I took this one Friday night at the Brady Street Sprint, which is always exciting as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Downtown Morning Images

Here are a few of the images that should have gone with yesterday's posts (but they hadn't been taken yet) and a couple of others I took this morning.

The pavilion is really coming along next to the skatepark. There's also a heck of a lot of other landscaping and concrete work going on in that area, including sidewalks being added along River Drive.

The Bix Streetfest is ready for tonight.

The Freight House, with all 4 venues' signs visible, along with the newly painted boxcar.

LeClaire Park sadly has a long way to go, but it looks like the par nearest to the bandshell is being prepped for re-sodding. Maybe the Pops concert is still a possibility?

The RiverWalk Lofts/Riverview Terrace Apartments (the sign on the side of the building still says River Walk Lofts) from Ripley looking west. The sign also says Opening November 2008... I'll believe that when I see it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Downtown Comings and Goings: Good, bad, and indifferent

I've been meaning to do a post about some of the businesses opening and closing downtown, and in a piece of good timing, the Downtown Davenport Partnership recently updated their website covering some of the same things. I had planned to get some pictures of a few of these things, but those will have to wait for a separate post. I've divided the comings and goings into what I personally consider to be good, bad, and indifferent events for downtown.


Azteca - Azteca is opening what I believe is their 4th location in what is currently ScatterKats. Finally some Mexican food downtown! ScatterKats really turned out to be a disapoinment compared to the "upscale" New Orleans-themed bar and restaurant it was originally opened as. I think I hear even more police calls to there than Shenanigans. They may not be closing the bar completely though, so we'll see how that works out.

Dillon Fountain - After being in disrepair for years, the Dillon fountain is back in action. Bill Wundram must be thrilled, as he's been complaining about it for years as well.

Riverview Terrace Apartments - Apparently the "RiverView Lofts" are now the Riverview Terrace Apartments. Despite being 100% medium-income, they should give a boost to that end of downtown. As always, it depends on the management.

Snap Fitness - The first piece of the redevelopment of the Putnam and Parker buildings is a 24/7 fitness center. I'm not sure if E Squared Fitness is still in the Executive Square building, but if it is, hopefully downtown can support two fitness places.

Skatepark Pavilion - The structure is together for the multipurpose building being erected next to the skatepark, and the surrounding area's earthworks are progressing as well. This can only help what is already the most popular amenity Davenport has built in years.

The Freight House - All 4 venues are now open, including the Ripley Street Grille. I have yet to check the place out, but from the pictures all the places look great.


Starbucks - I don't drink coffee, and could care less about Starbucks closing their downtown location, but I did feel that it lent an air of corporate confidence in our downtown. That said, I think its closing says more about over-saturation of coffee shops downtown and their own business model than the health of downtown Davenport. I almost included this in "Indifferent."

LP Studios - The closing of the Living Passion Studio and Coffee Shop at 2nd and Iowa is a greater loss for downtown than Starbucks. It was a unique place where you could get a coffee and watch them work on the backdrops for their productions as well.

Still missing - A new Figge restaurant, a replacement for Savitris, and of course, casino progress.


Sippi's - This has been discussed at length, but I'm leaving it in the indifferent category. I will say that the building looks better than I was afraid it was going to, but it was a fight to get it that far. The council passed design guidelines, so people shouldn't be surprised when they come into play.

Salon Luce - The "Mentality" hair salon in the Executive Square building was replaced by "Salon Luce." Ok.

Hilltop Hair Variety Shop & Neat Stuff - A couple junk shops move down the hill into downtown. I suppose having entrepreneurs selling a mixture of items is better than a vacant storefront. Seems like they could have changed the Hilltop name at least.

Check out the Downtown Partnership's page about current downtown projects.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bad storm

I had planned to do a post this morning, but I don't have power and I don't feel like typing a whole post with my thumbs. I drove around a bit and this storm seems like one of the worst we've had in a while. The damage seems worst east of Brady and also in the southwest end. There are a lot of power lines down and trees and branches on houses and cars. I kept wondering when Davenport is going to catch a break this year! It seems like its been one natural disaster after another.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Missing Roof Open Thread

At this point I have no idea what they're doing in the conversion of the old Salvation Army building on River Drive into the Riverwalk Lofts. They've torn the roof off, and taken down the pillars that held the roof up. I can only guess that they're either getting rid of the 4th floor, and rebuilding it and maybe even adding another floor on top. Or maybe they're just going for the 1945 Berlin look... any readers know what they're up to?

There have been some closings downtown, and I'm also hearing about some planned openings, so I'll save that for another post. Aside from the casino stuff I've been dwelling on, what else is up in the QC area?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Some More Casino Stuff

I'll get to the Davenport vs Isle of Capri stuff in a minute, but first I wanted to mention that Friday night I visited Casino Rock Island for the first time. (The fact that I'd never been there before shows that I'm not a big time gambler, and the fact that I lost a total of $6 shows it even more.) I wanted to see it before the opening of the new casino opening snuck up on me, because I'd always heard that it was different than the 2 Iowa side boats. I like that it actually feels like a boat, probably because it actually is a boat, or several boats to be more accurate. I'm a bit too young to have ever been on the President, but I hear that you could tell that you were on a boat there as well. The other alternatives are essentially just casino buildings on barges.

I would have greatly enjoyed the smoke-free atmosphere at Casino Rock Island, but for some reason Friday it had a bit of a sewer/gas smell on the bottom floor of the southern boat. I assume it was something leftover from the flood. The rest of the place smelled fine though, and I didn't have to wash my clothes when I came home. In some ways, I feel like its a shame that this unique casino will soon be closing, but I also think the new park Rock Island is planning to replace it will be a great asset for the QC.

nd now back to the regular topic, Davenport's Rhythm City Casino:

Davenport gaming license valued at $169M -QCTimes

So a Davenport casino could be worth $169 million to someone. As I've said before, we should be looking for that someone. Unlike Alderman Lynn's crazy suggestion last year, we should not even consider a casino operator that has another casino within 200 miles of here. Casinos are willing to pay $500 million just for a license in the Chicago area, so I think getting them to spend $60-90 million on a complex in Davenport, where they wouldn't have to buy the license, isn't out of line.

As I have posted many times, I would like to see this plan, involving a casino, hotel, and indoor water park. The Grand Harbor Hotel and Waterpark in Dubuque only cost $26 million, and IOC is supposedly spending around $40 million on their land-based casino in Bettendorf, so that puts the figure right at the low end of the $60-90 range. The study also said that a downtown casino wouldn't do that much worse than an interstate-side casino, so I think the benefits of a downtown casino outweigh the costs. The main reason would be the ability to use the casino investment as a match for state grants aimed at fixing the riverfront after the casino boat leaves. I also think a more urban location with a number of amenities within walking distance would be a unique attraction for a casino, and if people are willing to find the Riverside Casino, I think they could find downtown Davenport. You can argue that gamblers don't visit surrounding attractions, but I would argue that they have a better chance of visisting downtown attractions if they're visiting a downtown casino vs one along the interstate.

As a commenter on my previous post pointed out, Mary Ellen Chamberlin couldn't come out and say that the Isle $9 million offer is a pile of crap, as giving away your opinions like that isn't good for negotiating. However, the fact that she tried to put a positive spin on it with this "Its not a bad offer" stuff isn't a good sign. Its a terrible offer! If she's not on their side, how about a "no comment" or something? It appears she's worried whether anyone wants to come into this market and take the license, but somehow I think there are casino companies out there willing to gross $80-90 million a year.

Also, why would IOC spend $9 million on the current Davenport casino boat building-on-a-barge. When they spend all their millions to build a land-based casino in Bettendorf, couldn't they just float that building-on-a-barge down here? I don't want that, as it would possibly block even more of the river than the current boat, but I do wonder what their plans are for the current Isle of Capri boat.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Assortment: 90 Degree Edition

Blackhawk Hotel: A wasted renovatoin -QCTimes Letter to the Editor

This one gets July's Worst Letter of the Month Award, I think. The letter writer clearly hasn't been following what's happening with the Blackhawk, the RiverCenter, or Restoration St. Louis. Why take the time to write a letter to the editor about a subject that you apparently know so little about?

Davenport population inches up -QCTimes

Its not the best news, but compared to the losses that Davenport took from 2000-2002 (almost 1000 people) gaining 94 isn't too bad. This figure is also an estimate, so who knows the real number. Apparently all the people who claim they're moving away because of thumbtacks, stormwater fees, floods, etc are being more than balanced out by new residents.

The Battle of Newark, starring Cory Booker -Esquire

This is a pretty interesting read. Newark has some similarities to Davenport, and if more people were as passionate about fixing Davenport's problems as Mayor Booker, we'd be gaining a lot more than 94 people a year. Instead a lot of people just complain, or tell everyone they know how bad they feel Davenport is instead of working to make it better. We need more Cory Bookers.

And then the casino stuff... (QCTimes article here)

I like Mary Ellen, but it seems like she's a little too ok with IOC's screwing of Davenport and the RDA. The RDA's job is to maximize revenue for the gaming license that they hold, and continuing this relationship with a casino operator that openly admits to using us as a secondary location doesn't do that. The only solution to Davenport's casino is a new operator. A company with no other operations in the area, who will compete with Casino Rock Island and the Isle instead of just remaining a halfway casino property.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Municipal Residency Requirements

As any of you who read the QCTimes know, they've been running a series on cities' residency requirements, how they affect their applicant pool, and some of the reasons behind the rules.

It seems like the common thread through the articles is a general dislike of the rules, which in some ways is understandable. I completely disagree that rules that allow employees to work for a different city/county in one state, but not a closer city/county across the river. The example was where a city's firefighters could legally live in Muscatine, but not Rock Island. I understand, and will explain below, requiring government employees to live in the jurisdiction of their particular city or county. However, if you're going to let employees live outside your city or county, there shouldn't be requirements by state either. A radius in miles from the city hall, police station, fire station, or public works building would make more sense to me. I know there were a couple jobs for Rock Island that I was intrigued by, but despite being able to see the city from my living room window, I couldn't have worked there without moving. However, someone that lived south of Milan would have been eligible. That makes little sense to me.

On the other hand, I completely agree with cities/counties requiring some (or all) of their employees to live in the particular municipality they work for. These government jobs are usually decent paying and have good benefits, so what's wrong with one more job requirement? There are already plenty of things that employers insist on in order to hire someone. If they're going to pay you well and give you good benefits, the least you can do is give them back some loyalty in the form of property taxes.

I especially feel this rule is justified for police, which apparently the new Chief does not. Forcing officers to live in the very same community they're responsible for protecting should give us all a sense that we're in this together. Someone can't say, "well, good enough for government work" and then drive home to a nearby suburb, unaffected by how well they did or did not do their job. If cops don't feel safe in their town, that should just give them more empathy for the rest of us depending on them. We're all in the same boat.

I know there are some strong feelings out there about Davenport city employees living elsewhere than Davenport, so lets hear it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

PHeights, Window Washing, and a big night downtown

A few assorted things today...

Here's the progress on the first house in Prairie Heights. Notice that it actually looks like a house instead of a garage! Whoever moves in will have the benefits of an attached garage, but the front yard and curb appeal of a traditional home. Why did we ever stop using alleys?

Driving downtown this morning to check out the July 4th preparations, I saw that even the Figge was getting cleaned up for the occasion. This job ranks right up there with wing-walker in the "not for me" category.

And speaking of July 4th, what a night July 3rd (tonight) is going to be for downtown Davenport. The Bix at 6, a River Bandits Game, the Blues Fest, and Red, White, and Boom. While I think the fest belongs on the riverfront, it should make for a neat urban atmosphere with River Drive and 2nd Street packed with folks tonight. Hopefully a lot of the Bix@6 crowd will hang around downtown for the rest of the evening. Also, props to the QCTimes for giving the appropriate kudos to Davenport's flood rebound. Now if we could just get CNN to stop by and take notice...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A new QC photo website, and cross-posting at QC

I thought I would pass on a bit of info about a new web page that has been created featuring Quad City-oriented photography. Its called QC Shots, and its located at It is run by Davenport resident Josh Nash, an immigrant from Belgian who has lived in many places around the US before settling in this area in 2000. It takes bit to figure out the naviagation of the website, but you'll find he has a number of photo albums, and several videos. These images of the Walgreens being built at Brady and Locust were submitted to me from Josh. I may be featuring more of his photography in the future.

The left image was taken on May 12th, and the right on May 28th. Additional progress photos can be found on Josh's website.

In other news, my blog posts should be cross-posting now, both here at the same address as always, and over on the QCTimes' Quadsville. That blog, which may or may not allow comments (I haven't decided yet) will be located here. I kind of hate to get two different comment streams going about the same post, so I may just leave comments off on the mirror blog. That's the same reason I didn't just create a duplicate blog on Wordpress for those of you who have trouble with Blogspot.

I know I haven't been posting much lately, but hopefully I'll get back into daily posting soon.