Following weeks of public debate over the issue, Davenport aldermen on Wednesday advanced a proposal to bring the first Portillo’s restaurant to the Quad-Cities toward final consideration for next week.
At issue is a proposal to designate a piece of land for commercial use to make way for the possibility of adding Portillo’s, a popular Chicago-based restaurant, and several other businesses to northeastern Davenport, which has become a hot spot for local development. On one hand is the developer, who says the project would help boost the local economy; on the other are neighbors questioning whether the restaurant plaza would negatively affect their homes.
In recent weeks several neighbors have raised concerns about the city infrastructure, including flooding problems and traffic jams. They offered similar comments to city officials during a committee hearing on Wednesday night.
Among them was Charlotte McManus, who has lived in the area with her husband for decades. She told council members they have a “responsibility” to watch after the concerns she and her neighbors share.
Mike Meloy, a Bettendorf attorney who is representing a dozen neighbors opposed to the idea, called on the council members to apply two conditions needed to ease their concerns: new black top on Lorton Avenue between 53rd and 46th streets and changing Lorton Avenue into a cul-de-sac.
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“The neighborhood needs some protection here,” Meloy said, adding that neighbors “would be content” with the new zoning classification so long as those conditions are met.
Meanwhile, the real estate developer, William Torchia, asked council members to “take a moment and look at the other side of the coin,” saying the new businesses would create several ongoing jobs in the area, increase the value of the property and put about $6.5 million toward construction labor for the build.
Representing the area slated for the proposed development is Alderman Rich Clewell, 6th Ward. Clewell said he planned to consider and consult with city staff about the points brought to council on Wednesday, saying he is still listening to those concerns and “will listen until we vote.”
“Everybody won’t be happy,” he added. “Hardly any time is everybody happy about decisions that are made. But we’ll move forward as a city, and what we do will be the best thing for Davenport, I’m certain.”