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St. Ambrose class studies Davenport’s Hilltop Campus Village

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St. Ambrose University students are using hands-on research to learn more about a Davenport neighborhood. The Hilltop Campus Village is aiming to renew the area with shopping, dining and entertainment.

The Hilltop Campus Village is a work in progress. St. Ambrose students hope it becomes a destination for them rather than a drive-through to another location.

Harrison Street traffic leads the way to the area on Thursday morning.

"We've had a lot of good feedback," said Allisson Sackfield.

That's where you'll find Eclectic. The antique store opened at 1517 Harrison Street on November 3. With its vintage items and colorful creations, it's just the kind of business to help make this district a destination.

"We've had a lot of traffic," said Sackfield, who opens the store from 11-6 Wednesday-Friday and from 10-5 on Saturday and Sunday. "We've had a lot of support from the neighborhood as well."

That's one reason why St. Ambrose University students are presenting research on campus Thursday. These young entrepreneurs studied the district. It's designed to connect their campus with Palmer College, focusing on Harrison Street.

"People who actually live there," said Talor Ahmann, 21, a St. Ambrose junior. "How they perceive the area, and then how people who don't live there perceive the area. And what we can do to help change that."

St. Ambrose students would like to see everything from restaurants to a bike shop. They hope that renewal will also ease safety fears about venturing south of Locust Street.

Heavy equipment showcases some big changes. Harrison Lofts will feature 60 apartments to anchor the district. The $10.4 million project offers potential to a developing concept.

"They all said that they believe in the Hilltop area," said Kevin Noel, 21, a St. Ambrose senior. "And we believe that it can get better."

Students say that revitalizing the area needs more than a quick fix. That means dedication and commitment to make the possibilities a reality.

Businesses are sprucing up their exteriors. Banners help to create an identity. It's a diamond in the rough for Davenport.

City leaders like Mayor Bill Gluba, several aldermen and representatives from the district were in attendance for the presentation.

"I hope that this does change people's perceptions enough to want to go over there," Ahmann said.

"I think the only way it can go is up," added Noel.

Eclectic describes the new store and its surrounding environment.

"It's really amazing to be a business owner," Sackfield concluded. "So we're excited to be here."

The next generation is excited to be in the Hilltop Campus Village.