Another empty turn-of-the-century Davenport school building will be converted into senior housing, courtesy of the Chicago company that is nearing completion of the Taylor School project.
Nancy Kapp, president of Renaissance Realty Group, confirmed the company will close on the former Grammar School No. 6, later named Jackson School, on Nov. 4. Jackson, a mammoth brick building in the 1400 block of 16th Street, has not been a school since the early 1940s but has housed offices and other commercial and nonprofit ventures over the years.
Jackson was built in 1903, and unlike Taylor — built in 1897 — is in a bit better physical shape because of its use as an office building.
“We’ve had a wonderful reception in Davenport and cooperation from the city,” Kapp said. “Everyone we’ve done business with there — the staff, the Scott County Housing Council — has been great. We continue to be in shock many times at how nice people are.”
Residents near the school buildings are happy to see the relics reclaimed. Work is progressing fast on Taylor, which sat abandoned and abused for years, a magnet for crime and break-ins. Units should begin to be available for tenants by April, Kapp said.
“I’m tickled pink” to see Taylor renovated, said William Kosgad, who has lived across the street from the school on 15th Street since 1977. “It will improve the neighborhood for sure. There’s been a lot of kids hanging out there and homeless people and gang activity, too.”
Pam Henderson, 928 15th St., runs a day care out of her house and often had to reassure prospective customers that the big, scary, empty building across the street was not a sign of a dangerous neighborhood.
“I think this will help stabilize things,” she said. “It’s no longer attracting riffraff.”
Dyln Williams lives near the old Jackson School and said the neighborhood isn’t the worst in Davenport, but there are some issues.
“There’s some crime, a few drug dealers around here,” she said.
She thinks having a project like Taylor — with 41 affordable senior apartments, including 17 in the renovated school building and 24 in a new addition next door that is historically compatible — would be a good step.
“It would be positive for the community to have something like that,” she said.
As the company did in the Taylor project, Renaissance again will seek state historic and other tax credits to help finance the renovation.
“We’re buying it, and we will apply to the Iowa Finance Authority for the credits,” Kapp said. “We’re hoping our application will score well, and we hope to look for more projects in the Quad-Cities going forward.”
Alderman At-Large Gene Meeker said he has been providing Renaissance addresses of historic buildings of possible interest. As a former member of Rejuvenate Davenport, which often was accused of having a quick trigger to tear down properties, Meeker admitted he was a hard sell on some historical renovation.
“But I’ve become a real believer in what you can do with these old buildings,” he said. “I never thought you could do anything with Taylor with the state it was in. It’s very exciting to see the potential of taking these buildings and renovating them into something substantial.”