Beach, boat slips part of final RiverVision plan

Gardens, beaches and boat slips are all part of the updated plan for Davenport’s downtown riverfront.

Tuesday, architects and consultants with Hargreaves Associates unveiled the final RiverVision plan at the Figge Art Museum. City leaders have decided to update Davenport’s 2004 RiverVision plan in light of Rhythm City Casino’s impending move to land in the fall of 2015.

“We’re kind of healing what is being left behind there, rather than just abandoning where that gaming boat is,” said alderman Bill Boom.

The new plan centers around “Skybridge Plaza,” a riverfront park experts recommend for the foot of the skybridge. Casino parking lots would be replaced with green space, and a pier and boat slips would extend into the river.

Other ideas include an urban beach, riverfront gardens, outdoor sculptures, sand volleyball courts, and a river cannon at the foot of Brady Street.

“[River cannons] have an audible characteristic to them that you can hear from almost a block away, and that tends to draw people down to the river,” said principle landscape architect Kirt Rieder.

A redevelopment of the old Dock restaurant is also part of the vision. The consultants recommend a down-sized version of developer Todd Raufeisen’s plan — a maximum of 2.5 stories for dining and events.

“The views of the river during the coldest part of the year are stunning, absolutely stunning, and no one can enjoy that now,” said Raufeisen.

Raufeisen said he is excited about the vision, and he believes a public-private partnership could help make the slightly smaller project financially viable.

RiverVision’s dramatic transformation of the entire riverfront, though, would come at a cost — likely close to $36 million.

“It comes with a hefty price tag. I’m not sure we’re going to be jumping on this as fast as the mayor thinks… but it’s important,” said Boom.

It will ultimately be up to Boom and other members of the City Council to decide whether to implement parts of the RiverVision plan. That won’t happen all at once, but would likely take place over the next decade.