The eastern gateway into downtown Davenport got a boost Thursday, following a property donation by Russell Construction, the real estate development and property management company based in the city.
President/CEO Jim Russell and his wife, Michelle, have donated the former Gemvision location, at 706 E. River Drive, to the Scott County Family Y.
"We own 13 acres of land there, and the donation on the corner allows us to develop the Y more toward the east," said Brad Martell, Scott County Family Y CEO.
In addition, the donation will help the First Bridge project, championed by River Action Inc. Davenport.
Kathy Wine, River Action's executive director, said the original embankment of the first bridge across the Mississippi River in the U.S. is owned by River Action. Future plans are to build a replica of the bridge on the site.
When the land donation started, River Action requested an easement so builders could easily work on the project.
Fortunately, Wine said, Jim Russell realized the need for an easement and made it work as part of the transaction. "We are very grateful; we needed that," she said.
Construction of a new downtown Davenport Y is years down the road, Martell said. Right now, there is a market research survey going on. After that, a feasibility campaign will begin, and that will be followed by a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds.
"There's lots of work to be done, mainly, raising contributed dollars to develop the site," he said.
While plans are on the horizon, the Russell gift allows for better planning, he said.
What was once known as the C.W. Crossen Tool Co. property was acquired in 1998 by S.J. Russell L.C., a forebearer of Russell Construction. Neither Jim or Michelle Russell were available to speak Thursday about the donation.
In a prepared news release, Jim Russell said he is happy to donate the land to an organization like the Y. "We are excited to see this property get a new life and purpose," he said.
Wine, at River Action, is moving along on the First Bridge project. She has a grant request pending with the Iowa Department of Transportation, for state and federal funds. Wine hopes for news about the grant in February.
A scale replica of the bridge is in the parking lot near the River Action agency, 822 East River Drive.
As for the new Y complex, it will be built north on the bluff behind the Y's Early Learning Center. There are tremendous Mississippi River sight lines on the bluffs behind the center, Martell said.
He appreciates the gift from the Russells, "on a lot of levels," he said. "This will allow us to build a tremendous gateway to downtown Davenport from the east."