Davenport puts the brakes on Dock development

Davenport leaders pushed pause Wednesday on plans for a $24-$27 million riverfront development at the site of the old Dock restaurant.

The building, just east of Rhythm City casino, has sat vacant since 2003. In September 2012, the Davenport Levee Improvement Commission accepted a development proposal for the site from developer Todd Raufeisen.

Raufeisen’s latest plan for the site would demolish the old Dock structure and create a new, four-story building with restaurants, a banquet hall and office space overlooking the river.

At Wednesday’s Levee Commission meeting, though, several members said they didn’t support allowing so many offices on the property.

“The Levee Commission has defended the riverfront for 100 years, and we haven’t allowed condos or office buildings, and all of a sudden we’ve got a four-story office building with a restaurant,” said commissioner Bill Ashton.

Raufeisen said his plan calls for a 50/50 split of restaurant and office space, and he stressed that the offices were necessary to make the project financially viable.

“They’re trying to balance the financial reality of the building with the preferred use of the building. Sometimes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” Raufeisen said.

Commissioners also questioned whether the building would fit their longterm vision for the riverfront.

“Maybe we should upgrade the River Vision master plan. Its 10th anniversary is next year. Let’s make sure whatever we do fits — I think that’s right,” said Mayor Bill Gluba.

Ultimately, the Levee Commission did not make a recommendation on the project, instead voting to schedule a joint work session with the City Council to talk about a longterm vision for the riverfront. Raufeisen left the meeting frustrated, saying he’s spent the past year making plans and responding to city leaders’ concerns.

“I think the City Council and the Levee Commission need to get on the same page and decide what they want,” said Raufeisen.

At Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, aldermen also voted to delete an item from the agenda that would have created a public hearing for the Dock development.

Despite the setbacks, though, Raufeisen said he remains optimistic that construction on the project can begin in Spring of 2014.

“The reality is, we do have some time. But we’re not sitting around for two, three years,” said Raufeisen.

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