4 The Record

Davenport committed to affordable housing over long-term despite Palmer expansion criticism

Mayor expects solid plan in two years

Davenport's enjoying new business development in different parts of the city.

Various renovation projects continue downtown and one massive new production facility started operations this week.

The long-awaited Sterilite plant began manufacturing some of its plastic products.

It's not at full capacity yet.

More construction needs to be done to finish the 2.6 million square foot facility.

The plan is to have 500 people working there when it's up to full speed.

Company management hopes to have the entire plant complete by the end of the year.

Davenport City Council gave the go-ahead for a longer term project this week.

That's the expansion plan for Palmer College.

Council approved the zoning changes necessary for the chiropractic school to begin the process of adding onto its campus.

That's 38 acres of land rezoned.

That will require buying adjoining property.

The move came over the objections of neighbors and advocates for low-income housing worried about people losing their homes by Palmer's acquisitions.

Nothing is happening overnight.

Palmer's expansion could take ten years to get done.

We could probably spend a year or more talking about everything that's happening in Davenport.

But we don't have that kind of time.

It's why we like to bring in Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch for a conversation every now and then on 4 The Record for a progress report.

Let's start with Palmer College.

There never seemed to be any doubt the expansion would get the go ahead.

Klipsch talked about why this is seen as such a positive for Davenport.

"They're looking at bringing in a lot of development there -- $50 million worth of potential development -- as a catalyst for adding more development down the way in the area around it," Klipsch said. "So a lot of the neighbors around the area are very positive and I want to rest everybody's mind and make them comfortable and understand that this is part of a big urban revitalization program. We're committed to creating a neighborhood where anybody who can live anywhere they want moves to, but make sure that people who need financial assistance have an equal opportunity to participate."

Those who express some opposition feel it's being rushed. They don't think it should have passed until a real housing plan was established for those who could lose their homes.

Why not wait?

"This is the first time in I think Davenport's history that urban revitalization was one of the top five goals," Klipsch said. "So it's starting immediately and we were planning to do this regardless of the outcome, but we think it's a great opportunity now to look at that whole urban revitalization plan, which will include affordable housing as well as market rate housing for the central city."

Davenport and the Quad Cities as a whole have a shortage of rental housing.

"There's rental housing on one side but also affordable housing on the other," Klipsch said. "There are about 31 affordable housing units in Scott County and 29 of those are in Davenport. So we've made a commitment,  we're going to continue to make that commitment and we're going to continue to move forward."

There's strange timing to this issue.

It comes up weeks after Davenport's housing programs manager was terminated. The city fired Roy DeWitt on March 19.

He was suspended after an investigation was launched to look into claims of misconduct.

The city now says that investigation turned up significant evidence against him.

Klipsch doesn't think one person hurts the integrity of that department.

"We can't get into the specifics at this point, but he has been terminated," Klipsch said. "However, we have an extensive staff... our whole community planning and economic development team is all intertwined in working with that. We've already started the replacement process. That work will continue."

Watch the full interview in the video above.

Tune in to Local 4 every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It's a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Moderator and Local 4 News anchor Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what's happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.

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