Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A model for our Freight House?

A lot of discussion and study has recently taken place on the Freight House. It has the potential to be an anchor for the west side of downtown and for our riverfront, most agree with this. How the dilapidated building would transform to a useful entity is the big question. I agree with comments that to move from Point A to Point B should require limited involvement from the city and should focus on private investment. One community that is achieving this goal with a similar structure is Charleston, WV (Capitol Market). I visited Charleston on a work trip this year - an industrial mid-sized city, not all that different from the Quad Cities.

To incorporate a similar plan, modeled after Charleston, would require the following:

- Keep farmer's market vendors outside in the parking lot areas; this is what they have done in Charleston. The vendors set up camp underneath a metal roof, outside, in what used to be a parking lot. This could be accommodated in the parking lot S of the Freight House, with any spill over moving into the JOD lots to the W. The Capitol Market also transforms this area to seasonal markets that feature: pumpkins, Christmas trees, etc.

- Set up 10 or so areas inside the market (along the N and S walls), with a walkway through the middle. The specialty shops in Charleston included: a meat market, a wine/cheese vendor, an organic foods vendor with fresh produce, a confectionary type vendor, a coffee type vendor, a restaurant with bar, a book vendor, and a seafood vendor.

The kicker was - each of these shops already had a presence in the city. So these businesses were well-established and promoted local business owners and kept the money local. Some potential vendors from the QC, would be similar to: Goolick's Meat Market, Midwest Seafood, Centro, Greatest Grains, Gendler's, Lagomarcino's, Java Station, etc.

I was there on a Tuesday at Noon and the place was packed. People picking up fresh flowers, doing their grocery shopping with carts going from one vendor to the next, eating lunch, and so forth.

I don't have a magic solution to this challenge, but perhaps this model could be worth exploring.

To visit the Capitol Market in Charleston - click here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chicago Trip, Horizon Homes, Neighborhood Financing


Community leaders, staff, and aldermen made a quick trip Tuesday to Chicago. The trip gave Davenporters an opportunity to receive a behind the scenes look at public/private partnerships and the economic impact of Millennium Park, a presentation on land use by City of Chicago staffers, along with a short tour of City Hall.

Chicago had success by partnering up with corporations to help fund amenities in their park. Three examples included: Exelon Energy's welcome centers, the McDonald's bike/recreation facility, a pedestrian bridge sponsored by BP. The bike/recreation facility was very interesting, a company leased space and rented bikes, provided bike repair, and had parking for bikers. The facility also had lockers, restrooms, and locker-room facilities. A public/private partnership, similar to this, might have use in our Centennial Park - with skateboard, BMX bike rentals, and rentals of more traditional road bikes. It wouldn't need to be fancy, but could serve a purpose - just something that came to mind. Overall, it was interesting to see how the funding was generated to assist with the processes. I realize Centennial Park and Davenport are much smaller, but components might have potential here.

It will be interesting to see how River Vision discussions play out. We need to take small steps and look at some natural fits that benefit the most citizens. I think the proposed basketball courts; greening of the surface parking in LeClaire Park, and the simple fishing/boat piers might be nice additions.

Ald. Hamerlinck has done a good job working with the developers for Horizon Homes. He had a nice meeting last night and today introduced some good amendments for the project. Many of the ideas are modeled after what has worked at the Castlewood facility. The initiatives focus on joint accountability for landlords and tenants at the property. The vote on the revised resolution comes forward next week.

I would like to thank all who attended the Neighborhood Finance Program conceptual meeting last night. Thanks, especially, to Bruce Berger and Ald. Howard for their assistance. The new ideas included: looking at re-hab. financing options for existing residents, looking at structural process to ensure that the loans are given to equal numbers of individuals in all income brackets (high, middle, low), looking at more grant versus loan dollars from lending institutions, and looking at new construction for in-fill areas (i.e. vacant lots). A follow-up meeting and a potential road trip to Des Moines are next on the agenda. To view links on the program: click here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A few items of note ....

The Adler Theatre will re-open tomorrow (Nov. 2nd) with a free public open house from 5-7 pm. The event coincides with the 75th Anniversary of the venue. The mayor will speak, along with performances by QC Ballet, QC Opera, and the QC Symphony. The Broadway season opens Sat. (Nov. 4) with Joseph. Additional info: call 326-8500 or visit the website at www.adlertheatre.com. A press release on the opening event: click here.

A meeting, open to the public, to discuss the neighborhood finance proposal is set for 7 pm, Nov. 8th, at United Neighbors. Bruce Berger, Paul Fessler, Ald. Howard, and others will join me at the meeting. If you are unable to attend and wish to discuss this issue, feel free to call me at 508-2842 or send email to ian@ianfrink.com. More info on the program: click here.

Thanks to the Friends of the Davenport Public Library and to the Library Board for their check of $941k. The check covers the commitment to help fund the Fairmount Library. The two entities have pledged to offer similar funding for the Eastern Avenue Library.

Position statement: click here.

Thanks to the Goose Creek Heights Neighborhood Association and the other volunteers that came out, on Nov. 4th, for the fall clean up. I would estimate 30 or some participants; special thanks to Public Works and NETS officers for their assistance. This is a neighborhood that is turning a corner, thanks to an active neighborhood association, a reduction in crime, and due to an effort to re-market itself. It is great to see; hopefully we can have similar efforts in other areas of town.