526 W. 2nd Street and 522-524 W. 2nd Street
Total Investment: $240,000
Status: Targeted fall opening
Job Created: 3-5
Two more vacant buildings in Davenport’s urban core are getting facelifts and new business/residential tenants. An encouraging sign is these two historic buildings – both of which date to before the turn-of-the-20th Century – are on the near-west side of downtown, an area only a handful of developers have invested in recently.
The intrepid developer is Joe Wonio, who is also a property associate of Financial District Properties, the company adding apartments to the Union Arcade and Wells Fargo buildings downtown. This project is independent of Financial District Properties, however.
“I was looking for a building to both live in and lease for business as my first project, and Kyle Carter of the Downtown Partnership called me and told me Chenhall’s was for sale,” Wonio said, referring to the staffing company that was the last tenant of The Reform building at 526 W. 2nd Street. “I like the neighborhood, it’s a lively area close to the ballpark, and I can walk to work.”
Wonio is converting the second floor of The Reform building into his personal apartment. The first floor will be home to Company 38 Antiques, owned and operated by Lorie Charles, who already runs a successful antique business in Eldridge. Charles has also helped Wonio line up tenants for The Market building next door, which will become an antique mall. Previously it was home to a thrift shop and a barbershop, but has been empty for several years. Both businesses are expected to employ up to five, Wonio said.
“I’ve been wanting to be in downtown Davenport for years,” said Charles, who has been in the antique business for 15 years. “For my type of business, we need to be real close to the center of downtown, but not right in it. This is perfect.”
Lorie Charles, owner of Company 38 Antiques, is already collecting merchandise in her new space.
The building at 526 W. 2nd is on the National Register of Historic places, built in 1892 as the home of the German language Newspaper The Iowa Reform. The newspaper peaked in circulation in 1912, serving the local tri-city Germans, with 4,000 subscribers. During World War I, most Iowa German papers ceased publication because of anti-German sentiment, but The Reform continued by complying with a government requirement that each issue be translated into English and filed with federal censors. By 1938, The Reform was the sole surviving German paper in Iowa with a circulation of 3,240. It folded in 1943 due to anti-German sentiment associated with World War II.
Wonio said he’s excited to be bringing new development to the west side of downtown. He thinks the recent residential boom a bit further east is going to continue spreading, and will boost retail, commercial and business development in the central city.
“One successful project builds on another,” he said. “It’s kind of a domino effect.”