Monday, December 14, 2009

Old News: River Gulf, Blackhawk, Farmers Market

There were a few things I wanted to say about some news that happened over the last few weeks, so here goes:

River Gulf says latest extension will be the last -QCTimes

This debate definitely has two sides. On one hand, the River Gulf operation is certainly an eyesore, and like many of the late Bernie Goldstein's operations, it seems to enjoy screwing over the city of Davenport. The city owns the land, yet the property rights folks aren't coming out in droves to argue with people saying the city has no business not renewing their lease! Its almost like they only believe in that stuff when it suits them...

Anyway, on the other side you have the fact that Davenport only developed in the first place because of riverfront industry. I actually wrote a letter to the editor years ago defending the idea of industry on the riverfront unless Davenport had a better use in mind. The annoying harping by the biased QCTimes isn't helping either. The thing I find most humorous about the QCTimes complaining, is that I can imagine a situation where 10 years down the line their building is the ugliest thing within 10 blocks and all the new downtown residents start asking why they need this newspaper warehouse taking up prime land so near the riverfront.

So now it seems that Davenport officials actually are trying to redevelop the east fringe of downtown, so there's a little more reason for River Gulf to get the boot. The Levee Commission was picked by our elected officials to make these kinds of decisions, and if they do anything too crazy, those that appointed them will not be reelected. River Gulf has been anything but honorable or cooperative in this entire process, so I've lost a lot of sympathy for their plight. I just hope that come next spring they don't trot out another tired reason that their move is behind schedule (spring floods, anyone?) and try to extend their lease yet again.

Davenport Club returns — sort of -QCTimes

I was very happy to read this article. Everything I had been reading about the Blackhawk restoration made it sound like the top floor would be used for apartments. I was hoping it could still be some kind of restaurant, and now it sounds like that will be the case after all. Just like many older people have memories of the Davenport Club, I have memories of my Senior Prom dinner at High Notes, which was the later, public incarnation of the Davenport Club. Even though a lot of the view is blocked by the MidAmerican Building, I'm still glad that this neat space will be a public space rather than apartments. I would hope that they'll keep the glass elevator as well. This project is going to be a huge thing for downtown Davenport.

Farmer's market request space on riverfront -QCTimes

This one is pretty funny. The childish folks that run the Mall Parking Lot Farmer's Market want to come back to the riverfront. They refused to even be adjacent to the Freight House Farmer's Market because they don't follow the same rules about where vendors can get their food. So they moved to the mall, which is pretty much the exact opposite entity from a Farmer's Market in the first place. While the Freight House Farmer's Market was more successful than ever this summer, the Mall Parking Lot Market... wasn't.

I would compare this a bunch of kids playing basketball. Three of the kids decide they don't like the rules being used, so they storm off to play X-Box instead. They look out the window and see that the game they've left looks fun, and has lots of spectators now. They head out to play again, but instead of owning up to their mistake and asking to rejoin the game, they start a game of 2-on-1 on the next court over, which everyone ignores. The folks who were too snobby to even be near the Freight House folks need to swallow their pride, and merge with the Freight House Farmer's Market. Downtown and the riverfront doesn't need a 2nd farmer's market causing the same parking traffic-vs-pedestrian problems that started all of these changes in the first place.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow Day Open Thread

Even though the weather and roads in town aren't too bad, kids mostly get the day off today. It sounds like things out in the country are getting pretty crazy.

Here are a few images from Vander Veer Park this morning:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Eleventy Billion Jobs to Bettendorf: Just sign here!

We have a new winner in the category of "Most ridiculously overblown development hyping":

Advocates ask Bettendorf to invest $4.3 M in I-80 development -QCTimes

"Seeing an opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, millions of square feet of office and retail space and as many as 10,000 new housing units, the Bettendorf Development Corporation has agreed to ante up $500,000 to expand water and sewer lines to Interstate 80 and Middle Road if the city invests $4.3 million in the project.

Rob Fick, president of the private, non-profit community development organization, and developer Kevin Kellner, who also is a member of the group, told the Bettendorf City Council it is essential to invest a total of $6.8 million worth of improvements to attract high-tech companies in economic sectors such as insurance, health care, finance, multi-nationals and graphic production.

Van Dyke said the project is ripe for grant money because it will create up to 16,500 new office jobs. “The whole crisis with the state is about income tax. Creating new employment creates income tax and helps solve the problem.”

I wonder why they stopped at 16,500 jobs? Were 17,000 or 20,000 just too silly? And 10,000 new housing units also seems like a lowball estimate. Surely if all of these acres were covered by 60 story buildings they could fit way more jobs and residential units in than that. After all, the location has such a beautiful view of... nothing, and quick access to the same interstate that every other business/commerce park in the Iowa QC already offers... All it takes a little sprucing up and multinationals will be beating down Bettendorf's door.

This relegates the previous champion of great expectations , former Alderwoman Howard's claim that the Freight House Farmer's Market would create $50+ million in surrounding development, to a distant second place.

Niky Bowles's "best development ever" is sadly knocked down to third place.