Visitors who pass through the newly remodeled Union Station Visitor Center in Davenport shouldn't have any excuse for not being able to find something to see or do that piques their interest.

The Quad-Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau spent nearly a half-million dollars on the center, which features 16 walls of detailed information about the area, several flat-screen televisions showing pictures and interactive activities, large maps, local history, information on trail systems, dining, entertainment and sports and historical activities. An opening ceremony is scheduled today.

In addition to a brighter, cleaner and more informative interior, the exterior of the 85-year-old depot is also getting a makeover, with grass and walking paths replacing a concrete parking lot on the north side. The building itself will get some new paint, minor repairs and brick tuckpointing. The historic brick street in front will remain.

Beth Payne, director of visitor services, said the materials and information provided were chosen based on input from past visitors to the Quad-Cities.

"We built the ideas on all the things they are interested in," she said.

The hundreds of brochures and pamphlets touting attractions on the panels are supplemented by multimedia displays of area history, festivals and events.

The center has an expanded array of gift items, including goods from the nearby farmers market and other locally produced merchandise, as well as the usual postcards, hats and other tourist-oriented gifts.

Payne said the visitors bureau will run its event servicing from the center, which involves conducting visitor surveys of folks who attend things such as major pool tournaments, Bix and other downtown events. Having that information will help the bureau target its marketing and attract even more future visitors, she said.

Steve Ahrens, development director for the Davenport Levee Improvement Commission, said the renovation will bring more people into the city-owned historical building and help be a magnet to the riverfront and downtown.

The project cost a total of $450,000, with the levee commission contributing $150,000, the Riverboat Development Authority $50,000 and the city $250,000 over two years.

The visitors center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday from May to September. It will have expanded hours during special events, including Thursday, July 3, when it will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for Red, White & Boom! Winter hours will likely be reduced.

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