Levee Inn

Bill Wundram is a long-time champion of the Levee Inn on Davenport's riverfront.

Jeff Cook, QUAD-CITY TIMES

As the city of Davenport's Main Street Landing is set for a facelift, including holding an open house this week to help choose materials for future riverfront development, the question remains of what's to become of the Levee Inn?

For members of the Riverfront Improvement Commission, it's a question that has many possibilities after briefly discussing the subject at its Tuesday meeting and asking to continue the dialogue next month.

Commissioner Karl Rhomberg had asked for the discussion be put on the agenda after he pondered the inn's condition and historic value and how it related to Main Street development.

"What do people want?" Rhomberg asked. "What do the citizens want and how does the commission feel?"

The small structure was renowned for its hot dogs, including one named after  Quad-City Times columnist Bill Wundrum.

The Levee Inn has sat unused, except for measuring flooding of the Mississippi River, since 2000 when the Rhythm City Casino boat replaced The President.

As Rhomberg has asked people in the city about what they thought of the riverfront, the Levee Inn, formerly known as the Municipal Inn, has often led to conversations with many twists and turns, he said.

"The question arises about what you think about the little hot dog stand and what do you think," Rhomberg said. "'Oh, they should save it. Oh, they should move it or they should do this or they should do that.' It's a topic of conversation for the public."

Rhomberg said getting an operator who would be obligated to get the building up to code might not be practical, which means the commission might have to be the operator if it chose to resuscitate its business.

Commissioner Frank Clark inquired about using the request for proposals process to identify an interested vendor once development on the riverfront gets going.

"There's a lot of stuff that's going to happen down there over the next two to three years so where a vendor may have not had any interest in the past because the boat was there and it was blocked and not really an attraction, in two or three years it might be a great riverfront attraction," Clark said.

One aspect that needs to be clarified comes down to the jurisdiction of the Levee Inn as the city creates design standards for the downtown riverfront area.

Before the city begins development along the riverfront, it has contracted with RDG Planning and Design to help determine what materials and elements are consistent in the area to establish consistency opposed to a hodgepodge of looks.

"If City Council is going to approve some design standards for that entire area, would that null and void the Levee Inn at some point?" Commissioner Dee Bruemmer asked.

Needing clarification about the commission's role in the area, the topic of the Levee Inn will return to the commission's agenda next month, but not without some tongue-and-cheek humor.

"How are we going to know what level the floods are if we tear it down?" Commissioner Bill Churchill said.

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