Davenport scraps development plan to use former casino barge


DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) –  A plan to re-purpose the former casino barge in Davenport looks to be dead in the water. After a work session Tuesday, it’s back to the drawing board for what’s next on the riverfront now that the riverboat casino is gone.

When the riverboat went away over the weekend it left behind the barge and covered drive-up, or porte cochere. Restoration St. Louis, a developer very familiar to Davenport, wanted to make use of the structures to create a brew pub with event space and rooftop bar. Now, it looks like any future development there will have to be on land.

“We were trying to create a big outdoor space for public use,” said Amrit Gill of Restoration St. Louis. “We were also trying to create something unique, so the idea of a floating brewery.”

Several council members got behind the proposal and said they thought it met the criteria for the city’s RiverVision plan. But then came a wave of concerns.

“Most people do not want the barges, from what I’ve heard,” said Alderman Rita Rawson.

“I just want to make sure we’re really diligent in getting everyone’s input to make it really a destination and really a ‘wow,'” said Alderman Maria Dickmann.
Resident Bill Handel thought it was a good idea, just the wrong location. “RiverVision calls for a free and unobstructed view of the Rock Island skyline from Davenport and this didn’t have that.”

What some city leaders thought the proposal did have was potential to be an attraction on the riverfront.

“I saw this as a commercial focus that could happen sooner rather than five or ten years down the road,” said Alderman Bill Boom. “This was ready to go. So I think it’s an opportunity lost.”

Now, what’s left of the old casino structures will be taken out, taking any development on the water off the table. The city will contact the casino company to move the barge and porte cochere by this spring. Much of the old parking area is in the process of being converted to green space right now. From here, the city will begin exploring land-based ideas for development and the public will likely be asked for input in the near future.

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