The opening of 38 new apartments in the former Davenport school district administrative center on Brady Street is the latest in a string of improvements to a neighborhood known as the Hilltop Campus Village.
The apartments offer a different vibe from the warehouse and old school conversions that have prevailed in the Quad-Cities for the past 15 years.
That's because The Brenton, as the building is called, is newer and designed in a modern style.
Rehabbed for $6.7 million by Frank Levy, of Newbury Living, West Des Moines, the building at 1606 Brady St. was constructed in 1967 as a bank, the First National Bank of Davenport.
It modernistic, New Formalism style of architecture "threw off historic precedents," according to the building's nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, which was approved in 2019. To be considered for the register, a building has to be at least 50 years old so, yes, buildings from the '60s qualify.
"We want this to be a Hilltop Campus Village amenity that will draw people in," Levy said.
One of the big attractions is the ground floor of the building that — with its big open space and floor to-ceiling windows — Levy hopes will become a public gathering space not just for tenants, but the community at large.
Levy uses words like "outreach" and "activating the space" when he talks about how this area could be the site of a concert, a "pop up" restaurant, a meeting place for groups, and an event organized around the Quad-City Times Bix 7.
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"Or whatever your imagination would take you to," Levy said.
Hilltop Campus Village is defined as the area bounded by Lombard Street on the north, 5th Street on the south, Perry Street on the east and Ripley Street on the west, and including St. Ambrose University, Palmer College of Chiropractic, St. Paul Lutheran Church and the block between Gaines and Ripley, along West Locust Street.
Aside from the light, airy space, the building's outstanding feature is what Levy describes as a "magnificent" open terrazzo staircase that leads downstairs to the basement level where he has tucked in several surprises.
A large bank vault will become a gaming room decorated with a mural by Tyler Halterman who paints in the Japanese comic book style.
There also are conference room spaces that could be rented by tenants wanting an office for a "gig economy" job, and a fitness area with exercise machines. Foosball, billiards, ping pong and three large-screen TVs are expected soon, and there is storage for tenant gear and bicycles.
The apartments themselves are geared toward young working people who want to be in the downtown, with the conveniences and amenities of downtown, but who don't want to pay quite as much rent as is charged in some of the downtown lofts, Levy said.
All apartments are studios or one-bedroom units, with full kitchens and stacked washers/dryers in the bathrooms. Of those, five are in corners of the first floor, 16 are on the second floor and 17 on the third.
Newbury Living has developed other apartments in the Quad-Cities, including The Bridges in Bettendorf and 501 Brady Lofts in Davenport. the company also is proposing 33 apartments for the Preister Building, Davenport.