About

Posted in General Information on February 26, 2013 by Tory Brecht

What are we doing in Davenport? Working together to build a great community in which to live, work, play and raise a family. This blog will track the progress entrepreneurs, business owners, residents and the City of Davenport staff are making to pursue this ongoing goal.

Check here regularly to see exciting new projects, business expansions and new opportunities unfold.

Terrostar/Medix Dental – New Business

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , , on August 29, 2014 by Tory Brecht

Doing-it-in-Davenport_Black

300 Brady Street
Total Investment: $150,000-$200,000
Total Public Investment: Up to $30,000 (Downtown Davenport Partnership construction funds)
Private Funds Leveraged: $150,000-$200,000
Jobs Created: 5
Status: Targeted opening end of 2014

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A very old building in the heart of downtown Davenport will soon be the home of two very modern companies.

Terrostar and Medix Dental – which do online marketing and IT and technology support for the dental industry, respectively – are moving into the former Schneff Jeweler s and First Trust and Savings Building at the corner of Third and Brady streets. Tom Terronez, who owns both companies, says he hopes to have the 20-plus member staff moved into the renovated third floor of the nearly century old building by the end of 2014.

“A lot of stuff is happening in downtown Davenport, and being a tech-based business, we wanted something that fits our personality,” he said. “We love the historic building and we love being close to the action going on. My staff is very young and they want to be near the restaurants, bars and other things going on.”

The companies are currently housed on a couple different floors in their Bettendorf building on Utica Ridge Road, and Terronez plans to add five new employees in the current year. Being out of room, and wanting to consolidate operations, are another reason for the move, he said.

SchneffInside

There is quite a bit of work to do to convert the former administration offices of Palmer College of Chiropractic into a tech-savvy, open design workspace. Although the high ceilings and bright windows remain, pretty much everything else will be updated and renovated, Terronez said.

The building’s owner – TR Holdings – has plans to create second floor apartments and first floor retail and loft space – but there is not a firm construction timeline at this point, said a company spokesman. Work will also include some facade cleanup on the building that was erected in 1918.

Terronez said his project should fit in nicely with recently announced plans Eastern Iowa Community College’s new “urban campus” in the renovated bank buildings across 3rd Street. He hopes to bring in interns from both the college and from the Davenport School District’s Creative Arts Academy.

“The long-term vision is to have downtown Davenport be a tech and education corridor,” he said.

 

New Project: Downtown SCC Campus and Kahl Renovation

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2014 by Tory Brecht

Doing-it-in-Davenport_Black

Total Investment: $50 Million (estimated)
Total Public Investment: TBD
Private Funds Leveraged: TBD
Jobs Created: 200-plus (estimated, construction & full-time)

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The vacant First Midwest Bank building will be converted into one of the core campus buildings for Scott CC downtown

The pace of development in downtown Davenport is accelerating even faster with the announcement of a major public-private partnership between Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and developer Restoration St. Louis that will renovate three major buildings over the next two years.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, around $50 million will be invested to create a brand new downtown urban campus for Scott Community College and renovation of the Kahl Building (the current home of Scott classrooms) into market rate housing, first floor retail, and the long-awaited restoration of the Capitol Theater.

Two vacant and deteriorating buildings – the former First Midwest Bank and former First Federal Bank/Social Security Administration building on 3rd Street – will be renovated and make up the core of the new campus building. The 80,000 square-foot campus will feature classrooms, computer labs, a science lab, student commons, outdoor plaza, meeting place and administrative offices. The college’s current classrooms and offices in both the Kahl Building and the Ground Transportation Center will be consolidated on the new campus.

The Kahl will then be taken over by Restoration St. Louis and renovated into an 80-90 unit apartment building featuring first-floor retail and the new and improved Capitol Theatre. The theatre will be a big screen, first-run movie house that likely will serve food and alcoholic beverages, according to Restoration St. Louis.

KahlPic

Project costs are calculated at approximately $50 million. Financing will come from a variety of sources, including Historic Preservation Tax Credits, traditional lending, bond issuance proceeds and a capital campaign by Eastern Iowa Community College. EICC Chancellor Don Doucette vowed that no property taxes or tuition increases will be part of the funding. Sam Estep, senior VP of development for Restoration, said the company does plan to submit an economic development agreement to the City of Davenport at some point. This likely will involve economic incentives, but what exactly those will entail is still being worked out.

The timeline is to finalize feasibility studies and cost estimates by late fall of this year and begin construction in 2015, Estep said. College officials would like to move into classrooms in 2016.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to meet not only the growing needs of a local educational resource, but to do so while creating a major economic development project,” said Estep. “We remain very excited about the future of downtown Davenport.”

Artisan Grain Distillery – New Business

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , on August 11, 2014 by Tory Brecht

Doing-it-in-Davenport_Black 318 E. 2nd St. Total Investment: $500,000 Total Public Investment: $0 Private Funds Leveraged: $500,000 Jobs Created: 10 Status: Opening in September   Artisan Grain Distillery will be opening in this building in downtown Davenport soon

Downtown Davenport will be even more “spirited” soon, with micro-distillery Artisan Grain readying to open right next door to the already-thriving Great River Brewery. Opening the distillery is a dream come true for owner Allen Jarosz, an aviation industry retiree and successful businessman who also founded Davenport Tractor Inc., which sells replacement parts for antique tractors with a major focus on John Deere. The tractor business will continue to operate out of the back of the historic 8,600-square-foot building on 2nd Street, while the front of the building is in the midst of a transformation into a visitor-friendly distillery and tasting room/gift shop.

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The open space near the brick wall in this photo soon will be home to 6 fermenters and a large copper still

“Distilling has been a love of mine, ever since attending distilling school in Kentucky,” said Jarosz. “I really decided to take the plunge and turn it into a business last January.” That’s a bit harder to do than one might think, thanks to extremely strict regulations put in place on the spirits industry by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB for short. Jarosz said he received tremendous help navigating local, state and federal permitting and licensing issues from Davenport aldermen Bill Boom, 3rd Ward and Jason Gordon, At-Large. He also got some tips and tactics from Mississippi River Distilling Company in LeClaire, which has been in business for several years already.

“Craft distillers don’t consider other distillers as competitors, rather as friends that may be called on for help when needed,” he said. “Those guys are really pioneers, not only in Iowa, but on the national level as a micro-distillery.”

Jarosz said one thing that makes Artisan Grain unique is an uncompromising adherence to keeping things local. All the grains used in the process will be grown on a 120-acre organic farm he owns in Milan.

“We will grow and mill the grain,  ferment, distill and age the spirits, for national distribution or local consumption,” he said.  “By growing our own organic or kosher grains we may control the quality, and selection of grains available in the manufacture of our product, and allows us to customize our product taste by growing grains that may not be in abundance to other distilleries. This whiskey will be made from grain grown here in the Quad-Cities and distilled and bottled here in Davenport.”

Artisan Grain takes an old-school approach to the manufacturing process

Artisan Grain takes an old-school approach to the manufacturing process

Because finer whiskeys need to be aged in wooden barrels – often for years – the initial product line from Artisan Grain will consist of moonshine, white whiskey, white rum and other “young” spirits. Longer-term, a full line of whiskeys and bourbons are planned. Jarosz is awaiting delivery on six 7-foot-tall fermenting tanks and a 24-foot-tall copper still with a price tag of $150,000 before production can get underway. He is targeting a Sept. 15 date for the start of manufacturing and hopes to have the first spirits ready to sip on Oct. 24.

“That is also the date of a new moon, so what better time to break out some moonshine?” he said.

Moonshine bottles are ready for filling

Moonshine bottles are ready for filling

The tasting room and gift shop should be open in January. Jarosz said deciding to locate in Davenport was pretty easy. “I’ve lived in the Quad-Cities for many years and I find Davenport to be very forward-thinking and progressive in terms of supporting business,” he said. “There is also always something going on and things to do.”

Old HoJo Site Moving Closer to Re-Development

Posted in Projects with tags , , , on July 24, 2014 by Tory Brecht
The old and abandoned Howard Johnsons hotel on LeClaire Street in Davenport

This downtown eyesore’s days are numbered

A wrecking ball will soon swing into the dilapidated walls of one of downtown Davenport’s worst eyesores, making way for what the Downtown Davenport Partnership anticipates will go from long-time nuisance to “iconic structure”.

Several developers are already anxious to pitch their ideas for the soon-to-open prime real estate at downtown’s eastern gateway, said Kyle Carter, Executive Director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership. The partnership, which used its resources to purchase the property for $210,000 and turn it over to local non-profit Demolition Davenport, is putting the final touches on a Request for Proposals geared to find the best use possible for the high-visibility parcel.

The empty Howard Johnson hotel on the site has sat empty since 2009, earning it the dubious distinction of being one of downtown’s most notorious blighted properties.

While multiple local developers have already expressed early interest, Carter said the RFPs will be distributed nationally, hopefully giving the Partnership a wide range of attractive options when picking a developer.

Downtown Partnership and City staff have a hiearchy of uses they’d like to see.  Number one is corporate office or Class A office space. The second choice is a mixed-use development with some Class A office combined with residential or commercial uses. The third and fourth choices are a business class hotel and market rate residential – either rental or owner occupied.

The former Clayton House Hotel (and Howard Johnsons) in its heyday

The former Clayton House Hotel (and Howard Johnson) in its heyday

 

Carter said the push for office development is driven by a few factors. For one, most of the downtown building stock is older, historic businesses which are often difficult and expensive to convert into modern office use. Secondly, while the massive increase in new downtown market rate apartments has been good for business, office space drives up demand for daytime retail and commercial uses even more.

“For one, much of the downtown office space is historic with narrow column spacing, making it functionally obsolete for certain styles of corporate office design,” Carter said. “New construction offers developers  a blank slate;  we have a real opportunity to add more variety to our commercial offerings downtown to suit users that are seeking more open space.”

The key is finding the right balance of uses downtown, Carter added.

“We’ll never be able to compete completely with greenfield office development because of cost. But we think we can find those companies that are the right fit; especially those that need young professionals who want to be in that urban environment.”

Bruce Berger, Director of Community Planning & Economic Development in Davenport, said having the Partnership and a non-profit like Demolition Davenport help assemble the property and prepare it is incredibly helpful. It takes out the fear of the unknown, especially unknown expenses, that can make developers uneasy and risk-averse, he said. Without spending any City of Davenport taxpayer money, the two entities have:

  • Completed environmental risk assessment reports
  • Solicited bids for demolition (the cost of which will borne by the developers)
  • Below-ground environmental and flood reports
  • Debris removal
  • Environmental mitigation (which will be underway this September)

The proposals that are received will be reviewed by the Downtown Davenport Partnership taskforce and ultimately voted upon by the Partnership’s Board of Directors. The following criteria will be used to determine the best developer:

  • Experience, Qualifications and Expertise
  • Preferred Use Factors
  • Proposed Costs/Thoughtfulness of Bid
  • Financial and Environmental Sustainability
  • Design Quality, Scale & Aesthetics (meets or exceeds City downtown design guidelines)
  • Thoroughness, and Responsiveness of Proposal

Carter expects the RFP to be issued this week with proposals due back Aug. 25. Interviews with finalists and the selection by the board would occur by the end of September.

Despite Flooding, Davenport is Open for Business

Posted in General Information, Uncategorized with tags , on July 2, 2014 by Tory Brecht

Signs indicate Pershing is closed, but open to business traffic

Front Street Brewery’s signature beer is called Raging River Ale.

The name is hitting a little close to home for the long-time Davenport business, which boasts two riverfront locations – one between Pershing and Perry streets on River Drive and the other in the riverfront Freight House building.

The muddy Mississippi may be knocking at the front door, but manager Jenny Ash says both locations are open and serving.

“It was a little slow at lunch today, probably because parking is hard to find,” she said. “But this flood is typical and manageable.”

Ash has worked at Front Street for 22 years and has been through seven major floods. Improvements in the city’s flood protection plan over the years have made them much easier to deal with than the deluge in 1993 that knocked the brewery out of business for an extended period.

“When we see the Hesco barriers going in, it’s very reassuring to us,” she said, as several patrons stepped in to order lunch and gawk at the rising waters just outside the large picture window out front.

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Downstream a bit, Ed Kraklio Jr. of Nostalgia Farms Deli said the lunch rush today was more like a trickle. Too many people don’t realize that despite River Drive being closed, you can still access businesses south of the road. Still, he’s pleased with the flood protection measures in place.

“We’re still prepping and getting ready for the weekend,” he said. “Although we will be closed on the 4th because they cancelled Red, White and Boom.”

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Michelle Magyar, one of the co-owners of Mid-American Glass on River Drive, said they are coping with this flood much better than the last major flood in 2011.

A recent $5 million expansion, with a new building on their site, allows them to ship out a new dock to the north, meaning they no longer need access from River Drive.

“We are an island, but it’s business as usual although it’s hectic,” she said. “The city helped us put this new building in and we can now get in without going through the water.”

Any business owner that needs assistance with flood fighting should contact Public Works at (563) 326-7923.

Davenport site search options Zooming forward

Posted in General Information with tags , , on June 2, 2014 by Tory Brecht

The City of Davenport has partnered with ZoomProspector in the creation of a super-helpful, super-thorough new site selection and economic analysis tool to help attract new businesses and assist those already calling Davenport home.

Check out DavenportSiteSearch.com to take this immersive new tool for a test drive, and be sure to share it with anyone you know who might be looking for a new place to open a business, anyone who needs demographic information on Davenport or the entire Quad-Cities area, or local businesses who might want to create reports on employement and consumer spending data.

DavenportSiteSearch by ZoomProspector

DavenportSiteSearch by ZoomProspector

Davenport’s ZoomProspector site allows people to find available commercial properites along with discovering why that location makes sense. Some of its features include:

  • Simple search options that make it easy to find properties
  • Extensive demographic and employement data for every property
  • Business search to build industry clusters visually
  • Community comparison and demographic tools
  • Demographic mapping of more than 700 variables to visualize demographic, employment and consumer spending data

Oh So Sweet – New Business

Posted in Projects with tags , , , on April 17, 2014 by Tory Brecht

Doing-it-in-Davenport_Black

314 Main Street

Total Investment: $115,000
Total Public Investment: $20,000 – Davenport Small Business Loan Program
Private Funds Leveraged: $95,000
Jobs Created: 10
Status: Nearing Completion

 Exterior of Oh So Sweet on Main Street

 

Last summer, Tiphanie Cannon took her tremendous baking talents to the Freight House Farmers Market for the first time. As they gobbled up her delectable cupcakes, cookies and other treats, about every fourth or fifth customer begged her to open a storefront where they could get her goodies more often, all year-long.

This May, they will get their wish.

Cannon’s new bakery – Oh So Sweet – will occupy the last open commercial space in the recently renovated United Cigar Building. It was the increasing momentum of energy and re-development in downtown Davenport that helped Cannon pick the space on Main Street.

“Downtown is super cool,” she said. “I’m not a strip mall kind of girl. We’re going for an urban chic, big city vibe.”

This will be accomplished with splashy displays in the large windows lining the front of the building, as well as a variety of plush seating areas just inside the entrance. A gas fireplace, a super long counter and some other unusual touches will help make Oh So Sweet’s environment unique, Cannon said.

Tiphanie Cannon poses in front of the gas fireplace in the Oh So Sweet seating area.

More jobs will be coming downtown as well, with Cannon planning on hiring 9 employees to man the store. She’s covering all her business bases by offering walk-in baked goods, a line of special wedding cakes, and the ability to host events like bridal and baby showers and other parties.

“We’re going to be a multi-purpose bakery,” she said.

Cannon also praised the business climate in Davenport, noting that the project was assisted by a $20,000, interest-free small business loan. She also recently won $1,000 in the Quad Cities Fast Pitch entrepreneur contest for taking first prize in the Restaurant/Entertainment category.

“Everyone has been so supportive and helpful,” she said. “I’m really excited to get open.”

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