Davenport city council members are fast-tracking a new development.

They voted to suspend the rules and push through plans for a new apartment building on Second Street next to the RiverCenter.

The building would also have retail space.

This would be the first project in Davenport to use opportunity zone funding.

It’s a new federal program to encourage investments in what the government calls “economically distressed communities.”

Congress enacted the program as part of the tax code in 2017.

The first round of opportunity zones were granted in April 2018.

Two areas of Davenport qualified in January of this year.

Now, Merge LLC has the green light to develop the green space next to the RiverCenter off of E. 2nd Street and Perry Street.

Their plan is to create 60 apartments across four-floors and retail space on the first floor.

Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, explains that these will be market-rate price per square foot but what makes them more affordable than many other places downtown is that they’ll be smaller units.

He says it’s perfect for small businesses who can’t pay a lot of rent and don’t need a lot of space but just want to start something new in the area.

“We don’t have a vacancy problem, we have a lack of real estate problem. In the ’80s and ’90s we tore down all the two and three story buildings that used to house all the small businesses that people want. This is an opportunity to finally build some new retail space that can actually be afforded,” Carter says.

Tonight’s decision means developers can start their plans but if they don’t meet all of the city’s requirements within a year, the deal could be off and that green space would be back in city hands.

You can find out more about opportunity zones here.

You can find out more about Merge LLC’s plans here.