$50M project planned in Davenport


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Originally Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2014, 3:46 pm
Last Updated: Aug. 13, 2014, 6:00 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

DAVENPORT -- The historic Capitol Theatre will be restored and re-opened as a first-run movie house as part of a $50 million development plan in downtown Davenport.

"It's a truly rare and wonderful thing when vision and opportunity meet. This project is one of those times," Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) chancellor Don Doucette said at the 10-story Kahl Educational Center, which houses Scott Community College (SCC) programs and the Capitol Theatre, which has been vacant since June 2010.

Tuesday, the EICC board approved a letter of intent with developer Restoration St. Louis to create a downtown campus for Scott Community College, including revitalizing three buildings -- the Kahl building at 3rd and Ripley streets, and the former First Midwest and First Federal banks, off 3rd between Main and Brady streets, which will become the new downtown campus.

The Kahl building will be renovated into 80 apartments, with ground-floor retail space and the restored theater. The three buildings will be co-owned by EICC and Restoration St. Louis, the St. Louis-based developer that restored the Hotel Blackhawk, and the Forrest Block and Renwick building into apartments

For the Scott Community project, EICC will raise about $5 million in a capital campaign, and issue bonds for less than half the cost of the project, repaid with revenues generated by the residential and commercial space at the Kahl. 

EICC will not raises taxes or tuition to help pay for the construction, Dr. Doucette said.

The two adjacent empty bank buildings will be renovated into an 80,000-square-foot campus with classrooms, computer labs, a science lab, student commons, outdoor plaza, meeting space and administrative offices.

It will allow Scott to more than double its downtown capacity to 1,500-plus students. The college district's continuing education programs serve more than 30,000 students annually and will be integrated into the new campus.

“We view this project as the next logical step in the college’s commitment to the downtown area,” said EICC board chairman Bob Gallagher. “That is a commitment that traces back more than 30 years and includes such milestones as opening of the Urban Center on River Drive in the 1980s and, of course, the Kahl Educational Center in 1996.”

The initiative grew from EICC’s strategic planning process in 2013, which included input deom 23 business and community forums.

"We know our communities will thrive -- or not -- based on our ability to grow, attract and retain young people, young professionals, students," Dr. Doucette said, adding that "We believe Restoration St. Louis is uniquely qualified to be our partner in this project."

He said RSL became interested first in rehabbing the 1,500-set Capitol, which first opened as a movie hours and hosted over 80 concerts, films, ballet, other live entertainment and big-screen sporting events from early 2008 to mid-2010, when it closed.

"We've developed theaters in the past. We know how to do this, and we're excited to do it again," said Sam Estep, Restoration St. Louis senior vice president for development. "It's arguably the most iconic -- no offense, Gold Room -- piece of real estate in this city."

RSL completed a similar redevelopment of St. Louis' Moolah Theatre, a $13-million renovation of a 1912 former Shriners' temple, which opened in 2005 as a first-run movie theater, including a bar. The Moolah building includes a 400-seat, single-screen theater; bowling alley; and 40 loft apartments in what was the backstage of an auditorium.

Mr. Estep envisions the Capitol as offering a full-service food-and-beverage menu. On the ground floor of the Kahl (donated to EICC by the Figge Foundation) will be food, beverage, bookstore, and boutique retail uses, he said.

Q-C data has shown that rental housing demand exceeds supply, Mr. Estep said. "The Kahl building will support the college, but stand on its own as a highly mixed-use commercial building, and most importantly will bring back the Capitiol Theatre. We can't wait to see that marquee glow again.

"We're committed to downtown Davenport. We're here to stay," Mr. Estep said. "This project fits right in line with our goals."

Including the Scott Community buildings, Restoration St. Louis is working on a $100-million development package, including nearby City Square, which will be a face-lift to four buildings, with a full-service grocery store, culinary school, retail, hotel, restaurant, sky bar, office space and residential units.

Funding for the campus and Kahl funding will come from a variety of sources, including Historic Preservation Tax Credits, contributed equity, conventional bank financing, and possible city help.

Scott Community plans to be open for classes in the fall of 2016 , and Mr. Estep said the Kahl/Capitol may open in 2017.
















 



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