With three major redevelopments completed in downtown Davenport, Restoration St. Louis now wants to redevelop nearly an entire city block anchored by the Putnam and Parker buildings.
The $60 million redevelopment, known as City Square, will bring a 60-suite hotel, market-rate housing, Class A office space and a grocery/pharmacy store to the three buildings that straddle 2nd Street between Brady and Main streets. The project also includes converting the First Midwest Bank Building at 3rd and Brady streets into Class A office.
The site is the collection of buildings where Amrit and Amy Gill, the owners of Restoration St. Louis, had proposed building a land-based casino.
"This is probably the coolest piece of real estate we own," said Sam Estep, the company's senior vice president of development. He said the latest proposal incorporates many of the ideas the company had for the block in its casino proposal. Restoration St. Louis — responsible for the renovation of Hotel Blackhawk in downtown Davenport — had acquired the 2nd Street properties over the past few years.
According to Estep, Restoration St. Louis and the city of Davenport "are days, not weeks, away from a development agreement" that they have been negotiating for several months.
The Davenport City Council voted Wednesday night to set a Dec. 4 public hearing to consider approving the development agreement.
City documents show the city's assistance would be a reimbursement of property taxes available to the city, totaling $28.5 million over 20 years. The block is part of a tax increment financing district, or TIF. The project also is seeking a hotel/motel tax rebate.
Alderman Mike Matson, 8th Ward, expressed concern Wednesday about the development agreement, which would include TIF and hotel/motel tax rebates. He said he hopes residents will come out to comment on the project.
"The city's role is really its standard toolbox of incentives, and we designed it that way," Estep said. "We didn't approach the city and ask anything exotic or out of the box."
The projects include the Putnam Building, 128 W. 2nd St.; the Parker Building, 104 W. 2nd St.; the Center Building, 112 W. 2nd St.; and First Midwest Bank building, 101 W. 3rd St. Estep said the last building on the block — the former Social Security Administration building — is not under Restoration St. Louis' control and has been "sales price prohibitive."
"The Putnam is going to be Blackhawk Suites," Estep said. "We're very limited on the way we can expand the Hotel Blackhawk, so we're going to accomplish it by styling that property and making it an all-suite property to handle extended stay business and regular customers."
Estep said the Putnam would be converted into 60 suites, occupying floors two through six with the top two floors housing 20 market-rate apartments. The ground floor would have food and beverage, but the showcase of the building will be a Sky Bar on the roof.
"It's meant to be a big attraction for the property, even a tourist attraction," he said.
The Parker building, which would be the first to be renovated, would include Class A office space in which Restoration St. Louis hopes to relocate some of the current office tenants in the block, including Butler Insurance and Ruhl Insurance. All the existing tenants will be offered lease agreements or relocation proposals, he said, adding that Verizon had planned to relocate.
"The concept on the ground floor of the Parker Building is a grocery store — a boutique, full-service urban concept with prepared foods and organic selections close to a Fresh Market," Estep said.
The Center Building would house retail, office and related hotel meeting room and fitness center amenities that could be utilized by the suites' guests and residents, the office tenants as well as guests at Hotel Blackhawk.
"Imagine renting an office at the Parker Building and being able to host a meeting in a room that feels like a hotel board room," he said.
Amy Gill said the project will create about 200 construction jobs for a year and a half. She estimated that 150 new permanent jobs would be created by the project long term.
The project would be developed in phases, with completion over the next 12 to 24 months.
"I am really looking forward to be doing construction again in Davenport," Gill said. "It is gratifying to meet people who worked on the Blackhawk and come back to tell me how much they liked working there and how proud of it they are. I am really hopeful they feel the same way about Parker/Putnam."
St. Louis-based BSI Constructors Inc. will be the project's general contractor, but company leaders said they are committed to hiring local labor.
"We put a local participation clause in the development agreement to make sure we hit a specific dollar amount (with local labor)," Estep said, adding that the company had a similar clause at its Renwick building renovation in Davenport.
The project already is finding support from city leaders and downtown advocates.
Alderman Bill Boom, whose 3rd Ward includes downtown, said the project almost became the city's new land-based casino, "which obviously went elsewhere. I'm so pleased that the Gills have decided to bring the project back as downtown development."
Boom added that he is excited by the idea of a rooftop restaurant as well as the prospect of a grocery store and pharmacy. The project "completes our downtown ... this will bring a whole other level of vitality."
“I think it is a great project,” said Gene Meeker, alderman at-large. “It means a lot for downtown. It is major, major reinvestment for downtown.”
Boom said the added hotel rooms will help the city-owned RiverCenter attract the larger conventions and meetings that pass it over now.
"When you look at the Waterfront Convention Center (in Bettendorf) and the 400 rooms attached to it, you get the idea why that place is used so much for large meetings," he said.
According to Estep, the new hotel willl put downtown Davenport over 400 hotel rooms but below the 500 rooms necessary to be competitive in the convention and meetings market.
Kyle Carter, executive director of the Davenport Downtown Partnership, said his organization is very supportive of the project.
“The size and scope of this is exciting," he said. "I think the city has been great in helping put this together, but there is still more to be done.
“I don’t mean to drop hyperbole here, but it is big enough to use the words 'catalytic' and 'game-changer.'"