To understate it, a plan for a five-story apartment building in the Village of East Davenport is not being warmly embraced.

Quad-City businessman Gregg Ontiveros brought his plans Monday to Davenport's Design Review Board, showing renderings of a 60-foot tall structure at the corner of River Drive and Mound Street. The building would contain about 45 units of "market-rate apartments — higher end," according to Ontiveros' architect, Andrew Dasso.

The building would have a rooftop swimming pool and a mixed-use first floor, including a restaurant. Ontiveros said he has been working on plans for his property just west of Southeast National Bank for about nine years. The bank would be razed under his plan, and the bank would occupy first-floor space in the new building.

Six of the 11 members of the Design Review Board were present at the meeting and each extended some degree of objection.

Predictably, the greatest concern was over the building's height. In fact, Ontiveros is in the process of asking the city's Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance that would bypass a rule that sets the maximum height for buildings in the Village at 45 feet.

Ontiveros told board members the building has to be five stories high in order for him to make money. The site long ago housed a sawmill, he said, and contractors will have to dig dozens of feet down to hit bedrock. Site preparation, in other words, would be exceedingly expensive.

In a different area of the city, some said, the building would be great. But it's simply too big for the area.

"It absolutely dwarfs the entire Village," said board member Dana Wilkinson.

"That's never gonna fly," member Jeff Young said. "That was my first impression."

"It just doesn't fit, it seems to me," said member P.J. Slobojan.

Ontiveros said he intends to continue pursuing his plan. If it doesn't work out, he warned, he'll give up on the site.

"I've literally been working on this for nine years," he said. "I've turned down gas stations. I've turned down McDonald's. I'll throw my hands up and sell to the highest bidder — put your McDonald's there."

Replied board member Dick Davidson: "I don't think we'd approve a McDonald's there, either."

While members asked Ontiveros and Dasso to consider "a compromise," they said the building has to be five stories tall in order for it to be profitable. Besides, Ontiveros said, the whole Quad-Cities would benefit from its amenities. He said it would be desirable to "people who want to live in this town, and we want to keep in this town.

"If you want to stay Hooterville, stay Hooterville." (Presumably, he was referring to the fictional farming community in TV shows "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres." It was not a compliment.)

The Design Review Board lacks the authority to lift the height restriction. Members didn't vote on the design plan that was presented, because Ontiveros has not yet submitted a formal application. Board members asked city planner Ryan Rusnak to summarize their primary objection for the record: It simply doesn't fit the scale of the historic district.

"We'll just go through the appeal process," Ontiveros said. "Thank you for your time."

After he left, board members referred to the project as "massive" and "assuming."

Davidson asked, "Is Gregg doing this from the top down? I saw the mayor in here." (A reference to Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch.)

Ontiveros told the board that members of the Village's merchant group unanimously endorsed his plan. After his departure, however, a member of that board disputed the portrayal.

Though no vote was taken, the members were clear that a five-story apartment building at the entrance to the Village will not get past them.

"This is my last meeting," said member Rebecca McCarley, who is moving out of the city. "You'll have to deny this one without me."

Contact Barb Ickes at 563-383-2316 or bickes@qctimes.com

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