Thursday, January 01, 2009

QCI's 2008 Wishlist: 1 year later

Here's my top 5 wishes for the Quad Cities from last January's post, "QCI's 2008 Wishlist." I'm reviewing last year's list before I post my 2009 wishlist. I've also written whether or not I think we've achieved these goals.

#1. Illinois comes through for us
This refers to both the QC-Chicago rail connection funding, and the years-overdue WIU-QC campus. They are both no-brainers, but as I've said before, that is about the number of brains that seem to be in Springfield lately. The WIU campus has the land, has Federal grants for improving the area, and already has private businesses lining up to build projects in the area. The Amtrak project looks to be equally logical, at least according to the feasibility study. Illinois, lets get your act together!

FAILED. Instead of Illinois politics being the laughing stock of the Midwest, now they're known worldwide. And we still have no WIU, no Amtrak connection, plus closed parks and historic sites!

#2. Land a large downtown project
Our downtown progress has shifted to smaller projects like the Skatepark, Capitol renovation, and the former tailor shop being renovated on Ripley. We need something big to really send a message about downtown's increasing vibrancy. My top two choices would be a mixed-use building with office, condo, and apartment components, or the Gameworks/InPlay/Dave & Busters idea that I've been hoping for for years now.

Somewhat Failed. The Blackhawk renovation probably qualifies as a really big project for downtown, but it hasn't really gotten started yet. Instead there have been several medium-sized projects this year, such as the Salvation Army building's transformation, the Freight House, etc.

#3 Figure out the Casino
Speaking of large downtown projects, it would be nice to get the amazing Blackhawk renovation plans in motion. It would also be nice to put the LeClaire Park revitalization into action. What are these waiting on? Of course, they're waiting for IOC to stop screwing Davenport for a few minutes and allow some progress. At this point I've given up on them actually doing a useful project of their own, but it'd sure be nice if they'd at least get our of our way.

FAILED. We still have no public announced plans, and the economy isn't making any large investment in a casino likely. The riverfront is still marred by the parking lots and ugly, "local-oriented" casino. IOC needs to go, but I haven't heard anything from the council about it lately.

#4. Redevelop the former hotel and cinema sites on North Brady
I'm glad the new Davenport welcome sign wasn't put farther north, because at least this way we can pretend these eyesores aren't actually part of our city.

Succeeded! The hotel is torn down, the former movie theater is slated to become a religious center, and Tri-City and other contractors are going to be building new offices out there. Finally. When 65th/67th Street is connected and Menards gets around to building their new location, this will be a completely new intersection and a better entrance to Davenport.

#5. Learn to market the Quad Cities better
I believe we have a great community here, and a lot of people feel the same way. The question is why we sometimes seem to be aiming for the "best kept secret in the Midwest" title. We should be advertising in Des Moines, Peoria, Chicago, etc. Show off our low cost of living, many recreational opportunities, history, culture, and multiple downtowns all making progress. Show people that we're not the Quad Cities of the 1980's anymore.

Unknown? I'm not sure how many opinions about Davenport have been changed this year. We need a CNN special on how we weathered the floods and are completely back to normal.

1 out of 5? I hope we do better on my 2009 list...


KnightPride said...

I really would like to see the Amtrak come through. I think it would probably benefit Chicago, economically, more than the QC, but it would benefit the residents of the QC immensely to be able to cheaply, safely and enjoyably shoot up to Chicago on the weekend.

Anonymous said...

"Somewhat failed" for downtown is a stretch; I can't agree there. 1.Inking the Blackhawk Deal (built yet or not) is HUGE,
2.Reviving the Freight House,
3.4th & Iowa site cleared of major eye-sore and preparing for tenant
4.Multiple Facade improvements underway to historic buldings (have yous seen Cullen Electric!? Wow.)
5.FUNCTIONAL Farmers Market
6.Some of the best concerts this town has ever seen in '08 were downtown at locations that couldn't have handled them prior to 06-07 renovations
7.Woodfire Grill replaces Centro extremely quickly and appears to be doing well
8.Riverwalk Lofts nearly completed at Salvation Army (though I wish it were market rate too)

Although many could be considered "smaller," it's all good momentum during a time nation-wide that most are going backwards. I'd still argue the Blackhawk Deal being inked is BIG. Also, a very successful Freight House is a big deal too' don't take it for granted that it's doing so well.

All of this should be enough to at the very least call it a "somewhat successful" if not genuinely "successful" year.

QuadCityImages said...

I don't call it an unsuccessful year for downtown by any means. I fully agree with all those projects, plus some others.

However, my wish was "something big to really send a message about downtown's increasing vibrancy." I didn't mean another renovated apartment building, as great as those are. I meant like, say... Kone Centre-type things. The Blackhawk does have the potential to be that big, but its at such an early phase that I didn't count it. Has demo work inside even started?

Anonymous said...

A real success for downtown would be something to be done with the Forrest Block Building.

It looked horrible before, but during the last wind storm, some of the plastic covering the window openings blew off, so it is again open to the elements and hosts the home to 100's of pigeons.

People refer to gateways to the city, and that building sets on one of Davenport's bussiest gateways to the city.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see you agree on the downtown aspect, perhaps you should edit that post to say "fairly successful" at the very least than! :)

I believe demo work on the Blackhawk is either underway, or extremely close to beginning.

Anonymous said...

With luck, the developer at the Blackhawk will work out. Davenport has not had much success with this type of project before, and usually gets left holding the bag. A prime example is with the highly regarded Chris Ales, who is about to lose everything, and owes money to everyone and their brother, including the taxpayers of Davenport. Now this guy comes from St. Louis to rehab the Blackhawk, with a very nice presentation, the council oo's and aah's, and gives him an open checkbook without asking questions. We can predict that it won't take long for them to start pointing fingers at some department head for a blunder.

Anonymous said...

I would say that Davenport and Davenport/Rock Island being recognized with several national awards - one for "livability" and one for "green" practices - is evidence that the area's reputation is doing quite well around the country.

Really, it's the people who LIVE HERE that are the biggest haters! It's pretty sad, really. But read most of the snarky comments on this blog or on the QCTimes site.

A lot of self-loathing quad-citians out there.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of self-loathing quad-citians out there."

Understatement of the year.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are down to 0 out of 5. Seems like the religion thing is going to tank.Did you donate money?

QuadCityImages said...

I didn't. Despite my happiness that SOMETHING was happening with it, I want to see that thing knocked down. I can't imagine those folks getting enough cash to convert it in a way where it doesn't just look like a formerly abandoned movie theater. I think there are better uses for that land.