A Visionary Development Plan
In 2003, the cities of Davenport and Rock Island joined forces with DavenportOne, the Development Association of Rock Island, River Action, Riverboat Development Authority, and several private partners to fund a visionary development plan for Davenport’s and Rock Island’s common Mississippi riverfront. This marked the first time such a coordinated and comprehensive effort had been undertaken.
Constructing the Plan
Hargreaves and Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and their subcontractors began work in October 2003, conducting several well attended public meetings, reviewing background information, developing policies to guide development, researching physical and financial issues, developing development alternatives, and recommending a final plan for adoption by the parties involved in the process.
The RiverVision Plan recognizes the different nature of the Davenport and the Rock Island sides of the Mississippi River. Davenport’s is more horizontal, with no flood protection, while the Rock Island riverfront is more vertical due to the floodwall and the presence of several major structures – Modern Woodmen of America and the now demolished Armory (site of Schwiebert Riverfront Park and its demountable flood protections system), among others.
Elements of the Plan
As a result of this process, an ambitious multi-year (10-15 year time frame), multi-million dollar ($125 million in public funds leveraging an additional $300 million or more in private investment) plan was prepared for consideration by the public and private bodies involved in the process. The following elements are highlighted:
- Connections – Fountains in the river, lighting of key buildings and features (such as Lock and Dam 15, riverfront promenades, piers, etc.), a water taxi from 18th Street, Rock Island to Davenport’s Main Street, and visually compelling architecture, art, and design elements are addressed in the plan.
- Unique qualities – Davenport can create wonderful public open space on its 265 acres of riverfront property through green rooms, sculpted topography, an observation tower, amphitheater, and more. Rock Island can see a waterfront promenade created, ultimately linking the Botanical Center with the Sunset Business Park (and even the Sunset Marina and Park), as well as new waterfront housing, an urban greenspace, Schwiebert Riverfront Park, and a stronger connection between the riverfront and The Arts and Entertainment District and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Economic development catalyst – New housing, commercial, office, and mixed-use space is envisioned on both sides of the Mississippi, bringing new investment, new residents, new jobs, new visitors, and new a vitality to both downtowns.
- The RiverVision Plan recognized that Casino Rock Island relocated from its former spot at 18th Street to its new home at the southeast quadrant of IL 92 (Rock Island Parkway and Interstate 280).
Bold Vision for the Mississippi River
The RiverVision Plan created a bold vision for one of the area’s greatest assets - the Mississippi River. This has been embodied in the plan’s goals:
- Create strong connections
- Establish signature riverfronts
- Promote vibrant downtowns
Addressing Specific Rock Island Issues
Plan C does just that. The plan also identified several issues specific to Rock Island that were addressed, including:
- Armory – Demolishing and creating an award-winning, urban waterfront park
- Promenade – As part of the Schwiebert Riverfront Park and its linkages to Modern Woodmen of America’s Headquarters
- Riverfront housing – Identified prospective sites (McKesson Lofts and Jackson Square and design elements) and created new owner and tenant occupied