Looking ahead to the 10th anniversary of the Hilltop Campus Village, Director Scott Tunnicliff said "a new economy" has emerged in the Davenport neighborhood.
New businesses and housing developments have popped up across the Hilltop, which includes St. Ambrose University and Palmer College of Chiropractic, over the past year. Tunnicliff said run-down bars and vacant buildings have made way for unique businesses and affordable housing.
"Creative reuse of public and private buildings is a big deal, and really what's been happening across the Hilltop," Tunnicliff said. "I think the urban revitalization effort has now become a priority, for the whole Hilltop and for the city, which is really great to see."
The Hilltop has welcomed new residents and types of businesses, such as tattoo shops, beauty salons and stores selling cannabidiol, or CBD. But throughout the years, Tunnicliff said the region has maintained its "neighborhood feel."
"People want to be close to places where they can congregate, whether it's church, school or the grocery store," he said. "I think there's something missing in the suburbs or other areas where you miss that sort of connectivity."
Tunnicliff and other neighborhood leaders touted the success of the Hilltop over the past decade while welcoming new businesses and sharing initiatives to market the region.
New housing developments
Home to college students and young families, Tunnicliff said the Hilltop has become a hub for affordable housing and starter houses.
Several new developments are in the works, including the renovation of the former Davenport School District administration building, at 1606 Brady St., into a 38-unit apartment complex.
Tunnicliff said the former Salvation Army offices on 6th and Harrison streets have been purchased and are being converted into apartments.
And the former location of Los Compadres Taco Shop, at 512 Brady St., also is being transformed into apartments, he said.
"That's going to be a real game-changer for the whole Hilltop," he said. "And it's not all high-end apartments. It's going to be affordable for people in this area."
He added that some developers have shown interested in renovating the former Lincoln school building. While the building is near the Hilltop, he said if the project includes new housing it would benefit the entire region.
Board Member Christopher Meyer said the Hilltop also is working on attracting more families to purchase starter homes in the area.
"You've got a lot of young people living downtown. So when they do start a family and want to own a house, but still be in proximity of everything, this area is really attractive," Meyer said. "It would be nice to see the single-family residential housing on the outskirts of the Hilltop and downtown start to fill in with people who want to purchase a home."
New kinds of businesses
New businesses have opened in the Hilltop over the past several months, Tunnicliff said, often offering something new for the region.
Remona Laing, a native of Jamaica who is working toward her master's degree at St. Ambrose University, said she is opening a beauty salon, at 1228 Brady St., this spring. Since arriving in the Quad-Cities, Laing has cut and styled hair out of her home.
Now she's opening her first salon, to be called D'Haute Beauty Bar, which will offer haircuts, extensions and weaving, manicures and pedicures, massages, facials, body waxing, makeup and more.
"I think it's the most ideal area. It's high traffic and everyone drives on Brady Street," she said. "One of the things I hear from my clients is they're excited it's right near their homes. It's a central location many of my clients can even walk to."
Tunnicliff said the Hilltop has been home to more beauty salons in recent years. A "luxury lash" extension salon should open in the coming month, he said.
Also, the Hilltop is now a central location for tattoo parlors, he said. With the addition of O'Tool's Creative Design Tattoos on Harrison Street this past winter, the Hilltop now has four tattoo shops.
Also new for the neighborhood, two stores selling anxiety-reliving products, such as CBD, have opened up. Kratom Korner is open at 1501 Harrison St., and AHA Holisticals is open at 1706 Brady St.
"I think this goes along with the new nature of retail in general. Younger consumers are looking at things differently, and want to spend money on different things," Tunnicliff said. "I think you're going to see more businesses catering to the physical and emotional well-being of the individual, whether it's a hair cut or massage or anxiety treatment. It's things that make a person feel better about themselves that you don't have to spend a fortune on."
There also has been a boost to food service in the area. Redband Coffee Co. is expanding its Hilltop location; Zeke's Island Cafe recently celebrated its addition; and The Brewed Book is doubling the size of its location and adding upstairs apartments.
Tunnicliff said the Hilltop is working to attract more complementary businesses and restaurants in the coming year. To be announced are plans for the properties recently purchased by Happy Joe's Larry Whitty, on Harrison Street and near the Kwik Shop.
Promoting the Hilltop
Over the past year, the Hilltop also has been working on branding itself.
Members have placed way-finding signs across the region, as well as a new welcome sign on Brady Street, at the entry to the Hilltop Campus Village.
Meyer said the board is working on developing a stronger social media presence and will unveil a new tool on Instagram in the coming months.
And the Hilltop will host a new festival in late spring, leading up to its 10th anniversary. He said the festival should include shopping at businesses, live music and an outdoor movie.
"The more we see residents and businesses coming into the Hilltop, the more the word is out," Tunnicliff said. "Now when you say the word 'Hilltop," it means something. More people now know where the Hilltop is. And they know it's affordable, it's desirable and it's diverse."