There has been a “spectacular” investment in downtown Davenport this year – and there is much more to come.
That was the message Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership (DDP), delivered during the group’s annual meeting Tuesday, June 28, at the Hotel Blackhawk in Davenport.
Mr. Carter outlined many of the accomplishments taking place in the city’s downtown area. Those projects range from major business investments, new housing and streetscape developments to removing 162 gallons of dog waste in the past year from the downtown district.
The theme for much of the presentation was: “Growth continues. … We continue to push forward,” the DDP leader told the crowd of nearly 100 gathered in the hotel’s Gold Room.
“I think it’s spectacular,” Mr. Carter told the OCBJ of the investments being made. “There’s a whole lot coming (to downtown), big and small.”
DDP, an affiliate of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, is a non-profit organization focused on the historic downtown’s growth and beautification.
Some of the business highlights he spotlighted in his presentation include:
- 15 projects reflecting a total of $31 million of new investment.
- Eight projects are under construction representing $56 million of additional investment.
- $27 million in planned projects are on the horizon.
- More than $658 million has been invested in downtown since 2000.
Mr. Carter pointed out that one of the projects in the works is a new four-story, 120-unit apartment complex that will soon be built at the corner of Third and Main streets on the site of a former Wells Fargo bank drive-through facility.
That project is expected to be a $9 million investment and is being done by local developer Rodney Blackwell, according to recent news reports. In fact, as Mr. Carter outlined the year’s accomplishments, construction workers were busy about a block away demolishing that former bank building and removing trees from the property, located across from the downtown Davenport Public Library.
The development of new downtown housing and apartment units has been a success story. Mr. Carter said that downtown housing units hit the 1,679-mark in the past year and another 296 units are under construction. He added that market-rate housing occupancy is at 96%.
“That’s incredible after all the crazy stuff that has happened in the past year,” he said.
He also applauded the recent completion and opening of the Daiquiri Factory at 303 W. Third St. by Kyle Peters. “The transformation at Third Street has been incredible,” Mr. Carter added.
But new businesses and housing are just parts of the answer to improving the downtown district. There have also been improvements in streetscape work.
Mr. Carter pointed out some of those completed projects include: the 100-200 block of East Second Streetscape; electric grid update at Third Street, Ripley to Harrison; Iowa and Fifth streets light improvements; and the 100 block of West Third Streetscape, a project planned for spring.
The DDP official bluntly told the crowd that such work is needed to improve the looks of the community and make it a “place you want to live.” “If it looks like sh.., people think you are a garbage community,” Mr. Carter said.
When it comes to street projects, perhaps the biggest issue facing the downtown community centers on Third and Fourth streets. That is, should they remain one-ways or return to two-way traffic?
Mr. Carter, who said that issue has been discussed and debated since the 1940s, added that DDP remains a strong advocate for implementing two-way traffic on those streets. He said bringing two-way traffic there will be a “traffic calming” move by helping businesses and helping commuters get to their destinations in shorter times.
“There was a lot of planning, budgeting and funding going on behind the scenes and now a lot of those plans are coming to life,” Mr. Carter said in a news release. “For instance, we’ve made a big, tangible impact on livability and infrastructure improvements this year. We’ve moved mountains.”
Here are some of the other highlights shared during the annual meeting:
- Projects completed this year include 400 River, Daiquiri Factory, Davenport
- Bank Apartments, DoubleTree Hotel, Mississippi River Distilling Co., Robert Wolfe Antiques, Rubberstamps.net, Tapestry Farms and Urbane 210.
- There were 21 new, retained or expanded businesses in downtown.
- Assessed property values within the downtown’s Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) have increased from $109 million in 2010 to $186 million this year.
- Projects under construction include: Federal Point, KAHL/Capitol Theatre, a new building at 3rd & Main streets and multiple historic property renovations.
- DDP was a partner in Kaiserslautern Square’s renovation and an expansion of the annual Alternating Currents festival.
- DDP doubled the number of cleaning ambassadors and hired a community navigator to connect people experiencing homelessness, mental health and substance abuse issues to social service partners. The cleaning ambassadors’ work included removing 162 gallons of dog waste, disposing of 509 cubic yards of litter and spending 332 hours removing snow.
- Downtown housing units reached a total of 1,679 this past year with three key buildings opening and another 296 units now under construction. Market-rate housing occupancy is 96%, a level that is fully recovered from the flood of 2019 and the impacts of COVID.