Davenport River80 Plan Unveiled - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Davenport River80 Plan Unveiled

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Davenport city leaders will apply for a share of 100 million dollars in state funds, part of the Iowa Reinvestment District program, designed to spur economic growth. Voting 9-0 to move forward, they're doing that with an ambitious plan.

It's called "River80". It's a $71.5 million proposal for 25 acres at Interstate 80 and 74, with specialty retail, a 200-room hotel complex, continuous wave aquatic facility and theater performance venue. All of it, expected to create $250 million in new tax base, bringing money to local governments and schools, and creating jobs. And it's a proposal city staff was able to take from concept to plan in just a week.

"I understand the bar is set high and we may not get it," Alderman Bill Boom says. "But if we didn't attempt this, I think a lot of citizens would be questioning our intelligence and integrity as far as looking out for the citizens of Davenport."

The city's proposal would be paid for, in part, with state funds and private pledges to the city. The project is expected to bring nearly $6 million to the city in annual revenue, nearly $3 million to local school districts and $1.5 million to Scott County.  Along with that, staffers say it will create one thousand jobs, between building and working near where the interstates meet. And that's near where the new land-based casino would sit.

Some neighbors questioned the council, saying they don't want this in their backyard. One standing up and saying, "If people start going through these residential areas that we put on Eastern and Jersey ridge, that's just gonna make a mess for the people living there. It's no consideration for the people living there."

City leaders say Elmore will be extended for access. And while some residents are pushing for a 280/80 location, Alderman Jason Gordon says that would be too expensive. "The infrastructure cost to take a project of this magnitude to 80/280 would be unbelievably significant... Not only do we need to put streets in, we need to put sewers, we need electricity."

And the project depends on state funding. RDA President Mary Ellen Chamberlin, asking City Administrator Craig Malin," Does the development of some of these amenities depend entirely in receiving the state grant?" His answer, yes.

Meantime, development is set to happen downtown as well. The project is called River80 because it includes an agreement with developers Dan Kehl and Rodney Blackwell that dedicates $9.5 million to changing the face of the riverfront.

"In the long run," Alderman Ray Ambrose says, "The impact is significant, a lot of construction people working, a lot of people working. If we're fortunate enough to get it, I think it's a win-win for the community and the greater Quad Cities." Aldermen say, at this point, they're just getting in the game with the application. It's a process Alderman Barney Barnhill says is extremely competitive.

Bettendorf and Muscatine are also pitching projects to the state. Applications are due by the end of the week, with preliminary approval set to come in June.

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