Many small Iowa towns have struggled with declining population numbers over the past 10 years, but LeClaire's booming business and residential growth has separated the city from that group as it continues to grow.
In 2000, LeClaire’s population stood at 2,868, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Now, city officials estimate the town has almost 4,000 residents.
LeClaire City Administrator Ed Choate said the city has reached its housing goal by increasing housing stock almost 40 percent over the last 10 years.
Choate added that the city now has a variety of diverse housing options from the “extreme” upper-end homes to lower-end single family homes.
As of Sept. 11, the average sale price of newly constructed homes this year in LeClaire is $305,993, and 22 of those 30 new homes already have been bought since the first of the year.
The average sale price of LeClaire homes that were built prior to the first of the year — 67 were listed and 47 have been sold since Jan. 1 — is $207,842.
The city's newest development, called The Links at Pebble Creek, covers about 30 acres south of Pleasant Valley Junior High School and west of 35th Street. The project’s 118 homes, which will cost between $325,000 to $450,000, have been started, but not one has been finished.
Currently, Bettendorf and LeClaire’s borders are less than four miles apart, and Choate said the area in between is quickly infilling.
“My guess is that within the next 10 years we’ll have borders that will be joined,” Choate said.
Bettendorf and LeClaire exercise a two-mile platting jurisdiction, said Scott County Planning and Development director Tim Huey, who predicts any future growth that happens adjacent to LeClaire in unincorporated Scott County will be annexed into LeClaire.
“The county will do everything it can to see that land is annexed before it’s developed,” Huey added.
Choate said the city will not remain as focused on the housing push in the future.
“We’ve provided the catalyst, and it will take care of itself in terms of expanding and multiplying,” he added. "We've increased the rooftops, and we've been told that's what we needed to do to attract more commercial businesses."
Since 2004, a total of 44 new businesses have set up shop in the downtown district. Throughout 2013, the city issued more than 160 building permits, compared with 125 for Bettendorf, 73 for Davenport and 198 for all other cities and townships in Scott County.
Cindy Bruhn, LeClaire tourism manager, said the city will continue its focus on improving the downtown area.
LeClaire’s entire downtown makeover, which began in 2007, cost $6 million, said Rick Reed, former president of LeClaire’s Chamber of Commerce.
“We knew we had something special out here; it just needed to be addressed.”
In the next 10 years, Bruhn said the city will expand its downtown upriver to the north until Ewing Street at the edge of town.
Recently, Mississippi River Distilling Company announced its plan to build a 1,500-square-foot expansion to its current location on North Cody Road.
Green Tree Brewing Company also hopes to build a 1,600-square-foot micro brewery right next door to Mississippi River Distilling Company.
“The downtown seems to be a big part of our economy, and I don’t anticipate that changing too much,” Bruhn said.