New Master Plan for Downtown Davenport
Despite the Covid crisis, the Downtown Davenport Partnership (DDP) - an affiliate of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce – has been busy for the past eight months.
Partnership Executive Director Kyle Carter unveiled a new strategic master plan to the Davenport City Council during a public work session. The 110-page plan, led by a New York-based consulting firm, will be added to upcoming city council agendas for further public input, and a vote to accept the final version is expected by December.
Before the meeting, Carter said he's eager to provide hope with the ambitious, comprehensive master plan.
“The most exciting thing for us is that people need a ray of hope right now. We want to make a vibrant, inclusive and walkable downtown that actually has a future. We have worked so hard and come so far, and I’m excited to just set the table, remind everybody how good it’s been. Remind everybody where we can still go. Just having that platform of vision is one of the most exciting things about this.”
Carter says the planning process included a lot of diversity, equity, and inclusion discussions with a broad spectrum of people that addressed other cultural issues we’re dealing with as a nation now. Due to the Covid health crisis, all public forums were conducted virtually. The team conducted over 25 interviews, three focus groups, three Steering Committee meetings with business owners, residents, and developers, and an online perception survey that received over 500 responses.
Carter says improving the downtown helps the city and region overall.
“This downtown is the theater in which all the world collides. All kinds of people are here and we’ve said over and over again that this is everyone’s neighborhood, and we really mean that. Downtown is a reflection of the city as a whole – both in its socio and economic health. As downtown goes, so goes the Quad-Cities, and so these things are very important.”
“Whether or not you’re a big downtown advocate, you’re here all the time -- you should care about the health and well-being of this area, because it is your neighborhood, too. It will affect you in your pocketbook; it will affect your ability to see workforce recruitment to this region. It’ll affect the long-term viability of our competitiveness in the nation.”
In February, the Downtown Davenport Partnership commissioned a nationally recognized, award-winning planning and urban design team – New York City-based WXY Studio – to develop the master plan. And it paid $130,000 for the plan’s creation; no general taxpayer dollars were spent to cover consultant fees.
The result is "Davenport 2030: A Resilient City," a roadmap for shaping a sustainable, vibrant, and inclusive downtown. Building on past and ongoing efforts, the plan explores how to better connect downtown Davenport to its surrounding neighborhoods and the region as whole.
Carter says the plan also addresses the realities of Covid-19 and offers opportunities to overcome the unique challenges it presents.
“That’s true of the Quad-Cities in general. I think resilience is a word you’ve seen around the country, frankly -- mostly related to Covid, but in our case related to both flooding and Covid, and the polar vortex, if you want to throw that in. We’ve had a really tough couple of years, after a 20-year run of really incredible momentum and success.
“This is a big speed bump for sure, but I think it’s important to give people that hope and reminder of just how good it’s been; how great it can be again, despite the fact that we’re in the middle of a real down point.”
The master plan breaks down goals to be met within 18 months, five years, and 10 years. It outlines five key pillars for growth organized around a central vision:
The executive summary says “Davenport is resilient. By 2030, downtown Davenport has the potential to be a thriving residential center; a space for entrepreneurship and innovation; and a hub for entertainment, arts and play. To achieve that goal, Davenport must invest heavily in its streets, public spaces, and riverfront; connect small businesses and entrepreneurs to capital; and focus on creating a unique and inclusive downtown experience.”
The main recommendations are to:
1. Enhance the downtown public realm and infrastructure and create a more resilient riverfront.
2. Make downtown an attractive, welcoming place for residents, families and visitors.
3. Focus on attracting jobs, talent inclusivity, and innovation.
4. Create a diverse, equitable downtown, fostering small businesses and varied housing options.
5. Define downtown Davenport’s identity and brand within the region as an unconventional, inclusive, and unforgettable destination.
For more information on the plan, visit http://www.DowntownDavenport.com.