DAVENPORT, Iowa — Palmer College of Chiropractic plans on tearing down four homes on the National Historic Register to make way for green space near its main campus in Davenport. The initiative is part of a larger $14 million project to enhance the college's main campus.
"The initial plans that we presented to the city also comes with clearing space, some green space that we want to provide for other opportunities for remodeling the campus and beautifying the campus over time," said Dennis Marchiori, Chancellor and CEO of Palmer College of Chiropractic.
Dr. Marchiori and Dr. Aaron Chistopher, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Chief Financial Officer for Palmer College of Chiropractic presented to members of Davenport's City Council at a work session on Tuesday, October 18.
One of the homes set to be torn down includes the old St. Luke's Hospital at 121 West 8th Street. According to Marchiori, Palmer acquired the property, which has been sitting vacant for the last 10 years, a few weeks ago.
"This plan we presented to the City today is a way that we can reinvest into the college, Davenport, and the Quad City communities," said Dr. Marchiori.
The other three homes tagged to be torn down include 216 11th Street, 1118 Pershing Street, and 1124 Pershing Avenue. They are located in Davenport's Cork Hill Historic District.
"[Palmer has] been acquiring property around their campus and then stopping renting it out to people and stopping maintaining it and then it becomes demolition by neglect," said Bill Boom, 3rd Ward Alderman for the City of Davenport. Boom says he has lived in the Palmer neighborhood for the last 40 years.
Palmer says its plan is geared toward enhancing the feel of campus as it competes for the best chiropractors in the country. During the presentation, Dr. Marchiori stressed the importance millennial students put on the college experience and said that Palmer is competing against programs in Minneapolis, St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, and Kansas City among others.
"There are a few properties that we have on some aspects of the campus that need to be razed so that they can make way for green space and some of the other buildings that we need to enhance," said Dr. Marchiori.
Alderman Boom says that while Palmer should be applauded for its investment into the community, he isn't sure the college is looking at the historic properties with "the right eye".
"One of the houses on that list is fire damaged and I can understand that needing to come down," said Alderman Boom, referencing the boarded-up property at 216 11th Street.
"The St. Lukes property and the other two historic properties, I'm not really convinced they're in that bad of shape," said Alderman Boom.
Palmer College says it will present to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), which meets in November. Because the old St. Luke's Hospital is a Local Historic Landmark, it will require extra attention from Davenport's HPC.