Town Square mushrooms into 3-block development with city contributing $8 million to $15 million

The one-block Town Square idea kicked around by Bettendorf aldermen this spring has now mushroomed into a three-block downtown makeover with city taxpayers expected to contribute from $8 million to $15 million in land donations, interest rate buy-downs and developer tax rebates.

The two competing Town Square project proposals – from Russell Companies, Davenport, and Newbury Living, Des Moines – also call for obtaining state housing tax credits to help pay for either senior- or workforce-housing that would be built as part of the redevelopment.

The downtown proposals are on track for review within the next 30 days by the city council, and on a fast-track for approval so construction work could begin next year. The city council has scheduled a special work session for noon Monday (10/12) to begin evaluating the proposals.

While the city now owns the Town Square block – located between State and Grant Streets and 20th and 21st Streets – it does not own 10 other properties east and north of the Town Square location that are part of both development proposals. Those properties include eight apartment buildings along State and 21st Street, along with a laundromat and an industrial equipment sales building along Grant Street.

It is unclear how both bid proposals included the same expanded parcels as part of the Town Square concept.

City officials have denied instructing the developers to include the additional parcels in the redevelopment proposals, and said they may have gotten the idea during a walking tour given to developers by the city. The city's Request for Proposal (RFP) makes no mention of the additional properties and includes photos of only the single Town Square block.

"Our plans also envision further exploration of acquiring the 21st-22nd street block along State Street with the idea that some of these existing businesses could be relocated either into our development or elsewhere in the downtown area," the Russell proposal states.

Purgatory Pub, located within the enlarged development area, is targeted to get a facade upgrade under both proposals.

The owner of the eight apartment buildings is listed as Admiralty Place L.L.C. on the Scott County assessor's parcel listing. The limited liability corporation was "administratively dissolved" August 10 of this year for failing to file the required biennial report with the Iowa Secretary of State.

The Russell proposal lists Mike Ingleby, with Re/Max River Cities, Inc., as a partner in its proposal and says the apartment buildings are "controlled" by him.

Ingleby is listed as a "member" of Admiralty L.L.C., while tax bills for the apartment buildings are sent to Dave Delvechio, of 4112 Woodview Dr., Bettendorf.

The limited liability firm's "registered agent" from June 17, 2014 until the dissolution in August was the law firm of Gallagher, Millage and Gallagher, whose principals include Mayor Bob Gallagher, his father Robert Gallagher and David Millage.

The Newbury proposal lists $1.6 million for "land cost and demolition" of the Admiralty apartments, laundry and industrial building.

Newbury lists the total project cost at $20.3 million with the city's contribution totaling $8.1 million. Newbury wants a 10-year, 100 percent tax rebate on the retail ($6.7 million) portion of the development, and a graduated 15-year tax rebate on the housing ($13.6 million) portion.

The Russell proposal provides little detail of costs, saying the city's "estimated development budget" would be $15 million, and that it expects a 10-year, 100 percent tax rebate on the full project value. The proposal does not specify if Russell would obtain the additional land or if a portion of the $15 million is for acquisition and demolition costs.

Russell's proposal says it would seek Section 42 Tax Credit Financing for the senior housing portion of the project. Newbury says it would seek $1.1 million in workforce housing tax credits.

Newbury's proposal also would require the closure of 21st Street between State and Grant to accommodate parking for the mixed commercial/residential buildings. When the QC Waterfront Center was built, the city repaved that section of 21st Street and added traffic signals at both the State and Grant Street intersections.

Under both Russell's and Newbury's proposals, the city would deed over the city owned Town Square property for $1. The city paid $715,000 for the Town Square properties and spent more than $300,000 to demolish buildings on the land. The Town Square property along 20th and Grant Street also was landscaped with new trees and decorative planters at a cost of nearly $100,000.

Russell's proposal says the firm has "enlisted the collaborative support of the Goldstein family in master planning the balance of their land south of State Street in order to strengthen the connectivity to the riverfront from the downtown," but there is no financial commitment or involvement listed for the Goldstein family (Green Bridge) in the proposal.

Green Bridge owns the Alter Building at the corner of Grant and 21st Streets along with more than 40 acres of riverfront/downtown property.

In an unusual twist, the Newbury proposal names parts of its proposed development as "Hutchinson Place Senior Housing" and "Hutchinson Commons," presumably references to former Mayor Ann Hutchinson. Newbury was the developer of Cumberland Place, a 32-unit senior housing facility built along Tech Drive in 1999 when Hutchinson was in office.

CLICK HERE to download Russell Companies' Town Square proposal.

CLICK HERE to download Newbury Living's Town Square proposal.

CLICK HERE for city council discussion of Town Square concept earlier this year.

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