It may not look like much, but the Davenport riverfront has undergone a major transformation in the last two years.

The departure of the Rhythm City Casino barge and Treble Clef boat have opened up the city's canvas and the opportunity for exciting possibilities for the coming future.

This year marked the development of design guidelines and the concept of a flex space for food trucks and events across from the Radisson Quad-City Plaza, but the next fiscal year promises to see the construction of the first pieces of the riverfront puzzle.

"Our goal would be to have that lot built out next year," City Administrator Corri Spiegel said during Tuesday's management update meeting.

Embracing concepts provided in the past two RiverVision plans, Davenport will attempt to develop Main Street Landing in "rooms."

Each room represents a specific area of land, both on the north and south side of railroad tracks. The city will begin on the north side.

Spiegel said the city has intended to keep common themes in mind when thinking about the riverfront, including:

  • Embracing the view
  • A connection with the water
  • Activating the space
  • Developing in rooms
  • Exploring public-private partnerships

With the exception of moving an activity like beach volleyball to Centennial Park, Spiegel said all of the concepts in the RiverVision plans were intact.

While the lot to the far east will remain parking, the city is awaiting approval of the design guidelines in order to apply them to the construction drawings that are being prepared for the flex space.

The design guidelines, which have been developed by RDG Planning and Design, will be reviewed by both the Riverfront Improvement Commission and the Parks and Recreation advisory board before being approved by the City Council next year.

One change being proposed in the development phase is looking at creating an urban lounge as opposed to a sculpture garden.

"It's a concept we're seeing in a lot of the destination cities nationally and internationally," Spiegel said. "It's really meant to be art as an active, public, engaging space."

Spiegel showed as an example photos from Boston that showed how an urban lounge could be designed based on seasonality and serve as an attraction.

Alderman Kyle Gripp, at large, attested to the drawing power, having witnessed it firsthand last year.

"If the council generally agrees that this makes sense as the next phase, we can start investigating more of what are the fixed assets, what is that leading edge stuff and what are the introducible or seasonal assets," Spiegel said.

As far as the areas south of the railroad tracks, the city unveiled a few different ideas of what could be done, including building a tiered amphitheater, event lawn, playground and incorporating commercial attractions like restaurants at the end of the skybridge.

The concepts unveiled were not set in stone, but rather different ideas for the council to think about as the development process proceeds.

While the aldermen had different ideas about what kind of restaurants would work, there appeared to be consensus that it was an idea worth exploring in addition to making sure these areas were accessible to the public.

More information will be presented about the development north of the railroad tracks at the city's budget sessions next month. But with a high cost expected for the entire development of Main Street Landing, Mayor Frank Klipsch emphasized the need to explore public-private partnerships to help spur development.

"We need to be creative of how to get funding and not just be us," Klipsch said. "That's going to be extremely important because again we have talked about wow factors. Wow factors may cost more than what we can put on the taxpayers so how can we find some creative and collaborative ways."