Riverfront tour inspires vision for Davenport

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Davenport leaders are just back from a five-city riverfront tour.

Those ideas will help to inspire a new look for their city while sparking economic development.

Davenport is ready to hit the jackpot these days.

After hosting a floating casino since 1991, it's now betting on a blank slate along the riverfront.

When Rhythm City moves to land in 2016, it will open nine acres for development near Main Street.

"Our first stop was in Indianapolis," said Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin.

Reasons why city leaders studied five cities in a whirlwind road trip over the past weekend.

"These industrial sites have been transformed into spectacular public parks," Malin said.

That boots-on-the-ground experience can help to formulate local decisions about Davenport.

"It gives you a sense of scale," said Ann Corbi, a member of Davenport's Levee Commission.  "It gives you a sense of how the landscape can contribute to it."

Their trip enhances the RiverVision plan for a marina, urban beach, riverfront gardens, outdoor sculptures and more.  It's a projected $36-million pricetag that will be cut into segments.

When the gaming boat leaves in 2016, it will mark the start of a renaissance on the riverfront.  This community wants to embrace the changes.

Construction on River View Plaza on Wednesday drives home an important point.  Spending one public dollar leads to 32 dollars in private investment.

Examples from stops in Louisville, Chattanooga, Nashville, Columbus and Indianapolis inspire countless possibilities for Davenport.

"As you develop the riverfront, the parks along the riverfront, it obviously attracts people towards the riverfront," said Bill Ashton, a Levee Commission member.

From parking lot to greenspace, or eyesore to enchanting, it is a fresh start.

"To reconsider how we relate to our river historically, environmentally and otherwise," Corbi concluded.

For Davenport, it's a river of opportunities.