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.

Oh So Sweet – New Business

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


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.”

Halligan Coffee Company Building – Redevelopment

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by Tory Brecht


402 E. 4th Street
Total Investment: $7 million
Public Funds: $842,443 in state investment tax credits and sales and utility tax rebates
Private Funds Leveraged: $6 million
Status: Ongoing
New Housing Units: 45

Exterior of Halligan Coffee Company Building

The second-largest, and arguably highest-profile and most visible of Davenport’s Warehouse District buildings, is at long last undergoing a massive renovation, adding 45 more apartments to the burgeoning residential neighborhood on downtown’s eastern edge.

The project is another by developer Joe Erenberger and partners Y&J Properties, who recently renovated the Peterson Paper Company building on 2nd Street.

Like the Peterson building, the Halligan Coffee Company Building – constructed in 1907 – was long under-utilized for commercial purposes and was falling into serious disrepair. But the bones of a fantastic building are still evident, from the tall multi-hung sash sets and brick arches, vast 22-foot ceilings, carved stone decorative panes in the building entrance to the stained kiln bricks on the upper floors where coffee was roasted.

Tall ceilings and arched windows are some of the architectural elements in the Halligan building.


Erenberger said converting the 60,000 square-foot, century-old Classical Revival Style factory and office building into a modern loft apartment complex is among his most challenging and ambitious projects yet. But the work he’s done downtown so far has led him to learn a lot.

“We’re moving faster than we ever have before,” he said, adding that leasing could begin in as little as seven months from now. The building will feature seven units per floor – with one, two and three bedroom configurations – and will range in price from $900 to $1,500 per month. All units are market rate. They will also include cable, internet and access to public gathering areas inside and outside as part of the rent. He expects the building to be attractive to young professionals, corporate transplants and empty nesters alike.


One of the other unique challenges to the project has been cleaning up and improving the exterior of the property – both on the building itself and the surrounding lot. Erenberger partnered with the YMCA – which owns the adjacent land to the east of the building – to clear out dozens of invasive trees, weeds and other unwanted plants. In addition to tuck pointing brick and re-painting the historic commercial messages on the outside of the building, he plans on turning the concrete-heavy lot to the southeast of the building into a park-like public area. The outside space is challenging because it once served as the footings of a railroad spur servicing the Warehouse District.

Erenberger said he’s enjoyed learning about the history of the Halligan building – and the regional coffee company that was a big part of Davenport’s early development – as work has progressed. The company was begun by Thomas Halligan and partners in 1884 and quickly expanded as a distributor of coffee, tea, spices and other food stuffs throughout the upper Midwest. The company grew to more than 100 employees by the early 20th century, necessitating the building of the Halligan Coffee Company Building in 1907. The company ceased operations in 1952 due to global competition from larger distributors.

There will be quite a few nods to the coffee company’s history throughout the building, including the possibility of a commercial connection at some point, Erenberger hinted.

The Halligan Coffee Company Building circa 1935

The Halligan Coffee Company Building circa 1935


Calling All Entrepreneurs: $5,000 Prize Available for Your “Big Idea”

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2014 by Tory Brecht


Where would we be without the dreamers, innovators, inventors and big thinkers whose ideas drive business? Here in the Quad-Cities, we know that more than 80 percent of all economic growth is home-grown. And we want to see our entrepreneurs thrive even more.

Quad Cities Fast Pitch is a new business idea competition open to anyone in Scott or Rock Island counties with a great business idea or dream. We are looking for bright ideas in the categories of Manufacturing/Industrial; Web/Technology; Retail/Service and Restaurant/Entertainment.

The grand prize winner will receive $5,000 cash and thousands of dollars worth of in-kind business services. Three category semi-finalists will receive $1,000 cash and in-kind services.

The Quad Cities Fast Pitch competition is a joint effort between the economic development departments from the cities of Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island and Moline and several other partners, including: Ignite Quad Cities, the Iowa and IllinoisSmallBusinessDevelopmentCenters, the University of Illinois Extension, Iowa State University Extension, AugustanaCollege and WQAD-TV. The Riverboat Development Authority is sponsoring the cash prize for the contest.

Quad Cities Fast Pitch is a three-stage competition. The first stage is an open application period, where contestants submit their ideas in writing to the contest committee in one of four categories: Technology/Web, Manufacturing/Industrial, Restaurant/Entertainment and Retail/Service. The application period is Feb. 10 through March 15. Applications can be found at the Quad Cities Fast Pitch website at quadcitiesfastpitch.com.

Five semi-finalists from each of the four categories will be chosen to present at the Quad Cities Fast Pitch live event, hosted by AugustanaCollege and WQAD.   Semi-Finals and Finals Event: April 5, 2014, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Gävle Room in Augustana College’s Student Life Center. Semi-finalists will give a 10 minute live presentation to the judging panel in the semi-final round between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Four category winners will be selected from those presentations and will be required to present live in front of an audience beginning at 4 p.m. The grand prize winner will be selected out of the four finalists.

Doing It in Davenport – A Look Back

Posted in General Information with tags , , on February 4, 2014 by Tory Brecht

Doing It in Davenport logo

This blog is typically focused on looking forward and concentrating on all the great projects just getting underway or recently completed as Davenport’s renaissance continues. However, sometimes it’s healthy to take a look back at where you’ve been and to measure the growth.

The past four years have shown phenomenal growth in Davenport, highlighted by local businesses growing and expanding. Around two dozen unique businesses have grown, landed or expanded in Davenport thanks to public-private partnerships since 2010. All together, they have committed more than $145 million in private investment, created nearly 300 high-quality new jobs and retained more than 2,300 positions. Their investments were supported by around $14 million in public sector contributions, showing the strength of such collaborations.

Of these businesses, 71 percent are in the manufacturing sector, 19 percent retail/service, 5 percent distribution and 5 percent document management. For every $1 in public funds invested towards a project, the private sector contributed $10.62, providing a huge return on investment of taxpayer dollars.

The following table illustrates the breadth of projects assisted:

Company Type Private Investment (millions) Public                Investment Jobs                  Created Jobs           Retained
Alter Trading Mfg Expansion 14.3 184,000 3 75
Cobham Mfg Expansion 6.3 280,000 63 380
Compacker, Inc Mfg Expansion 2.39 35,000 5 12
Fidlar Technologies Document Mgmt 4.5 832,500 4 44
Genesis Robotics Mfg Expansion 4.65 0 2 8
Green Buick GMC Sales/Service 4 1,260,000 25 80
Hardi North America Mfg Expansion 3.7 120,000 18 62
Heart of America Sales/Service 27 4,250,000 35 0
Lewis Machine Mfg Expansion 2.5 750,000 7 169
Maxx Industries New Mfg 0.95 320,000 10 0
Mid American Glass Mfg Expansion 4.1 232,000 13 29
Nestle Purina Mfg Expansion 19 0 0 400
PCT Engineering Mfg Expansion 0.7 100,000 4 71
Penske Mfg Expansion 3 107,000 0 13
Phoenix Closures Mfg Expansion 0.73 35,000 8 43
Roemer Machine Mfg Expansion 5.5 215,000 0 20
Sadler Power Train Mfg Expansion 3.25 144,000 6 17
Seaberg Industries Mfg Expansion 3.3 110,000 12 90
Sears Manufacturing Mfg Expansion 1.4 50,000 0 450
Von Maur E Comm. Retail/Distribution 14.5 1,700,000 23 317
Von Maur HQ HQ/Distribution 15.5 1,354,500 10 17
Von Maur E Comm. Retail/Distribution 5.5 1,732,354 50 0
Totals   $146 M $13.8M 298 2,297

Success builds on success, and we fully expect the next four years to see even more accelerated growth. Stay tuned to Doing It in Davenport to track the progress.

Renwick Building – UPDATE

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 20, 2013 by Tory Brecht

Doing It in Davenport logo

324 Brady Street

Total Investment: $4.2 million
Federal Historic Tax Credits: $834,000
State Historic Tax Credits: $1 million
City bridge loan: $1.8 million
Private Funds Leveraged: $2 million
Status: Residential complete, commercial nearly complete

The exterior of the renovated Renwick Building shines at night

Christmas decorations adorn the inside and outside of nearly every single one of the 18 new apartment units in the just-completed Renwick Building renovation and new exterior lighting brightens this once dark edifice on Main Street. Work is continuing at a breakneck pace to get the first floor tenant space finished. The new live music venue – the operator of which is still officially under wraps although it may be the worst-kept secret in the Quad-Cities – is scheduled to open by the end of January.

Developers Amrit and Amy Gill of Restoration St. Louis said they are pleased to see work nearing an end on Renwick, as they gear up for their massive $60 million mixed-use City Square project on 2nd Street which gets underway in early 2014. The couple gave City staff a tour through the nearly completed building earlier this week, pointing out some of its unique features and architectural touches.

One of the centerpieces is the shared-use “penthouse” that offers some of the best views of downtown Davenport around. The penthouse features a gas fireplace, comfortable seating areas, and outdoor deck and workout room.

The Renwick penthouse offers stunning views of downtown Davenport

The Renwick penthouse offers stunning views of downtown Davenport

The first-floor live music venue will be state-of-the-art, with one of the most modern recording studios in the entire country and other high-tech touches that should deliver amazing concert experiences in an intimate setting. The gigantic front windows will give passer-by a great view into the building, which should be a hotbed of activity downtown.

Work continues on the live music venue in the Renwick Building

Work continues on the live music venue in the Renwick Building

All 18 of the apartment units are rented, further evidence of the growing demand for downtown living. Each feature high ceilings, top end appliances and individual balconies.


The Gills say the building should be fully complete and the first-floor tenant should be open for business by the end of January.

PhotoFROG – (new business)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2013 by Tory Brecht


1601 Harrison Street

Total Investment: $10,000
Total Public Investment: None
Private Funds Leveraged: $10,000
Status: Opening Jan. 11
Projected jobs created: 5

The new photo studio in the Hilltop Campus Village is at 1601 Harrison Street

One of the most iconic and architecturally interesting buildings on Harrison Street in Davenport is the latest to be rejuvenated in the city’s Hilltop Campus Village neighborhood. The North Harrison Trust & Savings Bank, built in 1910, will re-open as PhotoFROG, a photography studio owned and operated by Ranae Fenner. The century-old building, constructed in the neoclassical style, was most recently the home of the Hilltop Theatre, but has been empty for several years.

Fenner has been in the photography business for 10 years, but needed to find a new home for her studio due to plans to renovate the Pierce School Mall in the Village of East Davenport (check Doing It in Davenport a little later in 2014 to hear about those plans!) She said she fell in love with the look of the building, including its original tin ceilings painted red and high visibility location at the corner of Harrison and 16th streets.

The original tin ceiling at 1601 Harrison still shines

The original tin ceiling at 1601 Harrison still shines

Fenner specializes in senior class pictures, weddings and family portraits. She will have ample space in the former bank building to build all types of interesting sets for interior shots. The name of her studio comes from her strong reliance on faith – the “FROG” stands for Fully Rely on God – which she had to do after her previous professional career was derailed by a layoff and she took a leap of faith that she’d make it as a full-time photographer.

Now, she has a steady list of clients and shares her space with four contract photographers as well. She feels the building on Harrison will take her business to the next level.

“I like the uniqueness of the building and I like that the City is focusing on the Hilltop area,” she said.
“That attracted me even more. My target clients are in the 17 to 30-year-old range with senior pictures and weddings, and now I’m highly visible to two colleges and Central High School. When my business was in the Village, I relied solely on word-of-mouth. I think this spot will provide so much more exposure.”

Ranae Fenner poses against one of her studio backdrops

Ranae Fenner poses against one of her studio backdrops

Building owner Jim Lind helped Fenner ready the new studio, which features new flooring, fresh paint and other improvements. It also offers off-street-parking around back, off of 16th Street, which will be helpful, Fenner said. She is already working with some clients, and will hold an official grand opening in early January.

Miracle Tools – Business Expansion

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2013 by Tory Brecht


7739 Northwest Boulevard

Total Investment: $1.5 million
Public Investment: TBD (still being negotiated)
Projected jobs created: 15-20 within 5 years
Completion Date: Late spring 2014

Miracle Tools building on Northwest Boulevard

Miracle Tools, maker of industrial drill bits used in the aerospace, automobile, implement and other industries, is another quiet advanced manufacturing All-Star headquartered in Davenport. The company – which is  jointly owned by MA Ford of Davenport and Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Materials Corp. – is planning an expansion that will nearly double its factory floor.

A combination of increased demand as the world economy continues to recover as well as the desire by many U.S.-based manufacturers to use “Made in the U.S.A.” products, is driving the need to expand, said Ryan DeBarr, plant and engineering manager.

Ground was broken Monday on the 15,000 square foot expansion to the north of the existing building. This will bring the total factory square footage to 42,000 sf.

Work has begun on Miracle Tool's expansion in Davenport

DeBarr said the company will need to hire additional CNC operators and grinders when work is finished in late spring of 2014. The company currently employs 71. Nearly the entire new space will be devoted to additional work areas on the factory floor. Miracle Tools does not sell its specialty industrial tools. Rather, it sells directly to MA Ford and Mitsubishi, which handles transportation, logistics and outside sales.

Factory floor of miracle tools


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers