Davenport city officials took a step this week that could pave the way for the creation of more than 1,000 warehouse and distribution jobs paying a minimum of $15 an hour.
Aldermen voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a development agreement with Seefried Industrial Properties to build a 2.9 million-square-foot distribution center immediately north of Interstate 80 and west of the Davenport Municipal Airport for an unnamed client.
Seefried Industrial Properties describes itself on its website as "a longtime Amazon development and project management partner."
Davenport city officials were still tight-lipped Wednesday about the unnamed company that would utilize the planned distribution center, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
All appearances, however, strongly suggest it will be an Amazon fulfillment center.
Alderman Kyle Gripp, at-large, told the Quad-City Times after the meeting that he anticipated details of the proposed development, including the name of the company, will be announced sometime early next month — once real estate transactions are finalized.
The project would be built on 158 acres owned by The Shriners Hospitals for Children. The Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation in December announced it successfully executed an option agreement with The Shriners Hospitals to market the land for industrial development and move forward with site certification with the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
There was no discussion among aldermen or public comment during Wednesday's Davenport City Council meeting about the development agreement.
The proposed development would cost $250 million, according to a city application seeking up to $3.1 million in grant funding from the Iowa Department of Transportation to cover most of the expenses to upgrade nearby streets and intersections to accommodate increased traffic from the new warehouse development.
The development agreement requires the city to undertake about $3.9 million worth of improvements to extend, widen and add turn lanes to nearby streets. The project is also eligible for a 10-year tax abatement on the improved value of the land. The property tax exemption decreases over time, with an 80% abatement in the first year after the development is finished and a 20% abatement in the ninth and 10th years.
In year 11, the full assessed valuation of the new development comes on to the tax rolls, with an estimated minimum valuation of $75 million.
Davenport's grant application states the unnamed company would look to employ 1,000 positions at a minimum wage of $15 an hour and full benefits within three years, and the developer would like to begin construction yet this summer.
The vast majority of the positions created would be associates who work selecting, packing and shipping customer orders, according to the grant application. Remaining positions would include salaried managers and human resources and finance professionals, with more than 100 out of the planned 1,000-plus jobs earning $60,000 or more. More than 40 jobs would earn $80,000 or more, per the application.
The Iowa Transportation Commission met Tuesday to consider Davenport's grant request. It was not immediately clear Wednesday night whether the commission granted the city's funding requests, either in whole or in part.
The Quad Cities Chamber, Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation and Bi-State Regional Commission have all submitted letters to the Iowa DOT in support of the project and the city's request for grant funding.
"This project diversifies Davenport's tax base and brings jobs to the community and region," Quad Cities Chamber President & CEO Paul Rumler wrote.