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Davenport's biggest apartment renovation in 20 years, Gordon-Van Tine Commons adds 113 units downtown

Davenport's biggest apartment renovation in 20 years, Gordon-Van Tine Commons adds 113 units downtown


The Gordon-Van Tine Commons — the biggest and most expensive apartment renovation in downtown Davenport since revitalization efforts began around 2000 — opened quietly in June and is now nearly half rented.

The $35 million project at Federal Street and East River Drive is the latest work of Y&J Properties, a partnership of Joe Erenberger, Manisha Baheti, Tom Piehl and Levi Richie.

A total of 113 market rate apartments and eight ground level store fronts were created within two brick buildings that in the early 1900s housed the Gordon-Van Tine Co., a major builder of ready-cut, mail-order homes. The four-story building was the company's offices, while the five-story building behind it was the factory and warehouse.

The project pushes the eastern boundaries of what is considered downtown, and it brings to at least 1,094 the number of apartment units that have been built new or substantially renovated in the downtown since 2000, Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, said.

"It's a big accomplishment," Carter said of Van Tine. "It's a building most considered left for dead years ago. They deserve a lot of credit for getting it done."

The project wasn't easy, and took longer than expected. There were financing challenges as well as unexpected surprises once demolition began and workers were able to see what actually lurked behind some of the walls and bricked-over areas, Erenberger and the architects said.

Of the total cost, about $7.2 million came from state historic preservation tax credits, $5.5 million from federal historic preservation tax credits and $1 million in workforce housing tax credits, Erenberger said.

The project also received a $16.2 million loan from the federal department of Housing & Urban Development, according to the website of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Finishing touches still to come in the larger building include installation of potted trees and other greenery in the atrium and a 2,000-gallon saltwater fish tank in the entrance.

A grand opening is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, July 19.

All apartments are market rate, with rents ranging from $975 per month for a one-bedroom to $1,734 for a three-bedroom. The cost depends on size as well as amenities such as river view, patio or skylight. A few one-bedroom units started in the $700s, but those are no longer available, the renting agent said.

All the commercial-retail space is still available.

Among the new tenants

Clark and Emily Butler were among the Commons' first apartment tenants, moving in during early June with their two daughters, ages 7 and 2, and their two, large rescue dogs.

"We sold our home in north Davenport and moved here," Clark Butler said one recent day as he walked the dogs in the apartments' fenced-in grass dog park.

"We're in our mid-30s and we've always been interested in loft living," he said. "We decided to take a tour, and we thought it looked really cool, we thought it was awesome."

Theirs' is a three-bedroom with a river view. "It's pretty cool to find a big, three-bedroom. You don't usually find those downtown," Butler said. The couple already has taken advantage of the rooftop pool — the only one in downtown Davenport — and the gathering area where they entertained friends during the Red, White and Boom! fireworks.

Clark works for John Deere Seeding, Moline, and Emily manages the Simply Amish furniture store in Davenport.

Of the tenants Butler has run into so far, "we're some of the older people," he said.

Units in the two buildings have a different feel, Jennifer Radloff, architect with Shive-Hattery, Moline, said The four-story office building had more architectural features such as Douglas fir floors, an open staircase, wood wainscoting and the occasional pressed metal ceiling. These features have been retained in the 18 units created in the building.

The adjoining five-story factory/warehouse building was plain and utilitarian, and that feel has been retained in the 95 units created there.

The floors are concrete and the ductwork and brick walls are exposed. To bring light into the building, a floor-to-rooftop atrium was cut down the middle of the building, running lengthwise. In rooms facing the atrium, workers cut in transom windows to bring in light from the atrium.

The color scheme is gray (floors), white (walls, cabinetry) and black (the doors.)

Other components of Gordon-Van Tine Commons

In addition to the two buildings now turned into apartments, the Commons includes eight other buildings.

• 800 Isabel Bloom Way. Isabel Bloom occupies the majority of a two-story building east of the apartments. Other tenants include a chiropractor and Help Iowa Legal Aid.

• 735 Federal St. Offices, a hair salon, a call center and the Davenport School of Yoga occupy this building constructed around 1910 by the Standard Oil Co.

• 819 Isabel Bloom Way. This smaller brick building is for lease; it currently is used for storage and as a temporary construction office.

•  814 E. River Dr., Green Star Construction.

•  822 E. River Dr., River Action Inc.

• 826 E. River Dr., Riverside Groceries.  

• 836 E. River Dr. Java Java Espresso Café. 

• 902 E. River Dr., another location for Green Star Construction, specializing in windows.


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