Archive for Downtown Davenport

L&D15 – New Business

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


520 W. 2nd Street

Status: November Opening
Job Created: TBD


Exterior of L&D 15


Since moving from Brooklyn to Davenport a little more than a year ago, David Balluff and Lopeti Etu have searched long and hard to find the perfect space for their eclectic hand-made clothing and hat (and other stuff) store.

A brief residency in cramped quarters at Bucktown came to an end awhile ago, and the pair have been busy fulfilling mail order requests in their apartment since. But they finally found what they were looking for in The Market building on W. 2nd Street.

“It’s a great location for us, with gigantic windows and close to the Farmers’ Market, the Figge, the bike trail and other things going on down here,” said Balluff, who manufactures organic cotton and bamboo silkscreen shirts, dresses, sarongs, onsies, tank tops and other fine products under the name General Assembly.

His partner, Lopeti Etu, creates hand-blocked hats of all sorts, under the brand Lopeti Etu Millinery.

Both of their complete lines of products, as well as those of other local and far-flung original designers, will be housed at the new L&D 15 limited edition clothing, accessories and housewares shop.

Balluff said the fact the building was known as the New York Hat Company in the 1910s, made it seem like the perfect home for he and Lopeti’s vision.

“We’re bringing back not only hat manufacturing, but we were recently in New York ourselves,” he said.

Brand new windows help spruce up L&D 15

Brand new windows help spruce up L&D 15

Etu and Balluff plan to reach out to artists and designers both locally and internationally, including open calls for artists/makers and other creatives to present new products. That will happen closer to the studio’s opening.

“We’re trying to build something that gives back to the community,” Balluff said. “Our target market isn’t young or old, rich or poor. It’s people who appreciate things made by hand.”

He calls this “retail 2.0” – meaning L&D 15 won’t be just a place to shop, but a living workshop and community gathering space.

Part of their interior work that includes renovating floors and painting. They are using lumber from Davenport Public Works’ urban wood utilization program. They plan to open sometime in November.




Riverwatch Place – New Building Development

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

Riverwatch building from 4th Street



227 LeClaire Street
Total Investment: $25 million (Est.)
Total Public Investment:TBD – TIF reimbursement/Potential Brownfield Grant
Jobs Created: TBD
Status: Demo in December of existing hotel building, construction in 2015

Two well-known developers and one of the Quad-Cities largest construction firms are teaming up to replace one of Davenport’s worst eyesores with a gleaming new downtown development.

Riverwatch Place, a six-story mixed-use office and retail development, is the name of the winning proposal for replacement of the dilapidated Howard Johnson’s property at the central city’s eastern gateway. The developers are Bush Construction and Ruhl Commercial Investors, BLDD Architects.

The empty  hotel on the site has sat empty since 2009, earning it the dubious distinction of being one of downtown’s most notorious blighted properties. By contrast, the glass-encased new building will contain 60,000 square-feet, with most dedicated to Class A office space. Plans also call for a sixth-floor restaurant reminiscent of the old Davenport Club, and other retail and/or restaurant uses on the first floor.

Property owner Demolition Davenport, through the Downtown Davenport Partnership, will continue to be the steward of the property until a final closing.

The developers intend to demolish the building by the end of the year, with their sights set on spring or summer construction. City staff is working on some property consolidation and a draft economic development agreement. Bruce Berger, Davenport’s Community Planning & Economic Development Director, said the major incentive used will likely be a Tax Increment Financing reimbursement of the increased assessed value of the site, at a percentage to be determined.



Kyle Carter of the Downtown Partnership said the time is ripe for new office development downtown. 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.

“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.”

Berger said completion of both this project and the pending Dock at Davenport project will breathe new life into downtown’s east side.

“Adding amenities like new restaurants as well as Class A office space show that downtown Davenport is vibrant and a great place to do business,” Berger said. “It makes our job of attracting new investment and new businesses easier.”

Riverwatch place viewed from the river

Terrostar/Medix Dental – New Business

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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.”

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