Davenport aldermen will take a first vote next week on the future on the Elmore Corners area.
Preliminary discussion dominated Wednesday night’s committee-of-the-whole meeting.
In addition to making the area attractive to businesses and shoppers as well as making it bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly, there will be new building design guidelines that will require buildings to “contribute to the Elmore Corners destination appearance,” according to the site plan drawn up by architectural and economic development firm of Vandewalle & Associates of Madison, Wisconsin.
“What we don’t want to see out there is an urban sprawl kind of a commercial desert strip mall kind of thing,” Alderman Richard Clewell, 6th Ward said after the Wednesday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting.
The overlay is located on about 264 acres on the northeast side of Davenport at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Interstate 74.
One of the biggest developers in the Elmore corridor is THF, the developer-owner of Davenport Commons, whose tenants include Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, among others. Davenport Commons is located on the south end of the Elmore Corners Overlay District.
THF has been the major developer of the area since 2001, and according to the firm’s Davenport attorney, Candy Pastrnak, the company has complied with all the city’s requests and demands that came with the development of the Elmore Avenue and 53rd Street corridor.
Because THF already has businesses in the area, and because it continues to send out marketing materials with the building specifications that the city and THF agreed to in 2001, THF is asking the council to keep Davenport Corners out of the Elmore Corners Overlay District.
Davenport’s Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended to council that THF not be included in the overlay.
In the 2001 development agreement, THF agreed to do certain things and develop the land in a certain way, Pastrnak said. “And they have been a good neighbor. They really have,” she said.
Pastrnak said that THF has invested $43 million in developments in the area and has brought in numerous businesses. “And they have created a significant number of jobs, not only in the end-user stage but while it was being developed and constructed,” she said.
THF representative Robert Green gave the council a history lesson by showing that THF had developed everything from 46th Street up to 59th Street. That excludes American TV, which is now the Ashley Furniture store, and Target. THF acquired the Best Buy at the time.
Green said that the improvements THF has made to the area include the improvement of the intersection at 53rd Street and Elmore Avenue with dual left turns. An improved driveway and light for the fire station.
THF also did the Davenport West Project which included the original Dick’s Sporting Goods location, and has done all outparcels in that area except for the Golden Corral, he added.
The company also did the 10-by-10 dual box culverts across Pheasant Creek, Green said.
While THF is currently not included in the overlay plans, Clewell said that will be the discussion going forward.
“In 2001 we hadn’t considered we’d have a casino on Elmore Avenue,” he said. “So what we have is some growing pains.
“It will come down to do we reward a good neighbor or do we say, no, this is really a front door for that area and we want you to comply,” Clewell said.