Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2014, 9:47 pm
RiverVision planners suggest smaller restaurant project
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By Stephen Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVENPORT — Landscape architects and urban planners are suggesting a $24 million restaurant and office complex proposed at the site of the former Dock restaurant be cut in half.
City officials and Hargreaves Associates hosted two public workshops Thursday to discuss updates to Davenport's RiverVision 2004 Plan. The 2014 plan will address changes along the riverfront, including the eventual move of the Rhythm City Casino riverboat and an 85,000-square-foot facility proposed for 125 Perry St. by Raufeisen Development President Todd Raufeisen.
The site formerly held the Dock restaurant that was damaged in a July 2003 fire.
Mr. Raufeisen wants to build a three-or four-story building with first-floor restaurants and kiosks, second-floor office space, a banquet hall and a roof designed for event use and year-round viewing of the Mississippi River.
On Thursday, David Gamble, an urban planner with Gamble Associates, said Davenport has nine miles of riverfront. He said Mr. Raufeisen's proposed project could be a lightening rod for future development on the river.
"It's a very important decision for the city," Mr. Gamble said. "We think what's proposed right now is a little too big."
Mr. Gamble suggested a smaller version of Mr. Raufeisen's proposal, along the lines of 30,000 to 40,000 square feet set back from the river to allow for a river walk.
In October 2013, the Davenport City Council voted 10-0 to give preliminary approval to a land lease agreement with Raufeisen Development for the project. Mr. Raufeisen, who attended the Thursday meetings, said he still is committed to the project.
"I think at this stage they're (city and architects) are gathering information," he said.
"If people can't feel they're on the river, people aren't going to go there," he said. "People want to see and engage the river. We designed a building to do just that. We're going to enhance that view, a view that no one has.
"We feel very confident it can be a successful development, both financially and appealing to those that are concerned about the view of the river," Mr. Raufeisen said. "Our goal is still to make it the most premiere experience on the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and New Orleans."
Downsizing the project can be done, he said, but it would cost Davenport taxpayers more money. Currently the project calls for about $6 million in Tax Increment Financing, which would partially fund bridge access over River Drive to the Dock's first floor entrance.
"Everything has a cost," he said. "The building we proposed under the city's development agreement, and under the utilization of TIF, that building pays for infrastructure required to give it access 365 days a year, 24 hours a day."
Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba said he wants an upscale restaurant on the river, but not as large as Mr. Raufeisen plans. Like the city's levee improvement commission, Mayor Gluba expressed concerns about riverfront land moving out of the public domain and into the private sector.
"That's my biggest fear," he said. "Our job is to keep that public space owned by the people of Davenport."
Other suggestions made by Hargreaves Associates called for river fountains, excursion boats, and green space now occupied by a majority of Rhythm City Casino's 600 parking spaces at the foot of Main Street.
"We consider ourselves a world class city," Mayor Gluba said. "A world class city deserves a world class riverfront."
Two more public workshops are planned, with final RiverVision recommendations expected by the end of March.