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Century-old Davenport farmhouse to be demolished to make way for new development
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Century-old Davenport farmhouse to be demolished to make way for new development

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From 100-year-old columns to colonnades, doors, leaded glass windows and a "ghostly signature from the past," volunteers with Habitat ReStore Quad Cities this week walked away with a harvest of architectural treasures.

Volunteers on Wednesday salvaged items from a century-old local farmhouse at 4607 E. 53rd St. ahead of demolition scheduled yet this week to make way for new commercial and residential development.

"The leaded windows were all sold within 90 minutes of opening this morning, and many people have come in just to look and talk about how often they drove by the house and wondered what was inside," Habitat Restore Marketing Manager Diane Schreiner said Thursday.

"I spoke with a woman who grew up in the house in the '50s," Schreiner said. "She had many fond memories of being on the farm" and pointing out the "little door in the back of the house that was for ice that came from the ice house, and sledding on a hill past the fields behind the house."

Davenport city officials this spring rezoned and subdivided the 38-acre property to make way for a new, mixed-use development by Russell Construction + Development and Dolan Homes.

Russell will develop the northern, roughly 18 acres with commercial and retail uses, and Dolan Homes will develop the southern 20 acres with single-family and townhomes.

"The goal of the Birchwood South development is to create a professional and upscale environment offering desirable amenities to Quad Cities residents," according to an announcement this week from Russell Construction.

Damen Trebilcock, vice president for Russell, said Birchwood South would include sit-down, full-service restaurants, quick service/drive-thru restaurants, professional services and amenities, and other retail uses.

Trebilcock said he could not yet name commercial tenants for Birchwood South. He said four lots were under contract for use by a single tenant, with a one- to two-lot multi-tenant strip center.

The site plan approved by the Davenport City Council includes nine lots and two regional detention ponds.

Russell acquired the property on Sept. 7 and will begin mass grading in the next several weeks, Trebilcock said. All site work and utility installation will be completed this fall, with roadways and building construction breaking ground in the spring of 2022, according to Russell Construction.

A three-way entrance will be installed for access into the development across from Russell’s Headquarters at a new roadway named Ravenwood Drive, as well as eastbound and westbound turn lanes on 53rd Street at Lakeview Parkway and Ravenwood Drive. A four-way, lighted intersection will also be installed on East 53rd Street and Lakeview Parkway, likely sometime in late summer or early fall of 2022, Trebilcock said.

Since the early 1930s, the property had been a working farmstead and is considered the last developable piece of real estate of its size west of Devil’s Glen Road.

Prior attempts to develop the land over the years failed to come to fruition.

"It's a site everybody drives by that's sat undeveloped," completely surrounded by commercial and residential development along a main Quad-Cities thoroughfare, Trebilcock said. "Russell is excited to work with its partners to develop this property and attract new business to this area and create more tax base for the community," and further improve the landscape of the East 53rd Street corridor.

The rezoning drew objections from numerous neighbors who worried the development would negatively impact home values and increase traffic on 53rd Street and neighborhood roads. Residents also raised concerns about stormwater runoff from the site and nearby school capacity to accommodate new families.

Davenport aldermen placed numerous conditions on the rezoning, including a 30-foot landscaped setback on the eastern-, western- and southern-most property lines abutting single-family homes.

"As long as they stay within the conditions of the new ordinance, everything they're planning to do meets city code," said Alderman Ben Jobgen, Ward 6, who represents the area. "And continue to be good neighbors as they look to develop it is all I hope."


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