Rock Island and Davenport were awarded First Place honors in the 2007 City Livability Awards Program, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, for the RiverVision plan.
RiverVision is a partnership between the cities of Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois, to develop a Consensus Plan for their shared Mississippi riverfront. The Consensus Plan was developed over the course of seven months with input from the public on both sides of the Mississippi River. The RiverVision process is a unique model for cooperation between two cities and states to achieve both shared regional objectives as well as projects specific to the needs of each city. By pooling the resources and energy of two cities and states for the greater good, the communities of Davenport and Rock Island have created an ambitious model for neighboring communities across the country.
Partners in RiverVision include the Cities of Davenport and Rock Island, RiverAction, the Riverboat Development Authority, Renaissance Rock Island and DavenportOne.
The RiverVision Consensus Plan, created by Hargreaves Associates, provides a coordinated framework for channeling development and configuring urban public open space to enhance and improve the quality of living in Davenport and Rock Island. The framework is focused on 5 main objectives:
1. Connect Davenport and Rock Island
RiverVision acknowledges that the two cities already share the most important connection of all - the Mississippi River. RiverVision builds on this strength by setting in place a coordinated series of highly prominent public icons to reorient the two cities toward the river and to visually connect them across it. The proposed icons and attractions include a series of piers reaching out across the river, a water taxi circuit between the two cities, and large river fountains on axis with the main streets of both downtowns suggestive of a physical connection.
2. Capitalize on the Unique Qualities of Davenport and Rock Island
The plan takes advantage of the different floodplain characteristics of both cities, specifically the floodwall in Rock Island and the absence of a floodwall in Davenport. In Rock Island, the floodwall presents a different set of equally exciting opportunities. The floodwall makes it possible to introduce new development right at the river's edge. The Rock Island floodwall can be reconfigured to make the space next to it inhabitable, allowing people to access the river visually and physically and introducing residential development with spectacular views at the river's edge. While Davenport has long been criticized for not building structured flood protection, there is growing recognition that the city was visionary in its approach to flood management. Due to the periodic inundation of the river's edge, the urban edge is set back from the shore. The city now owns 265 acres of largely cleared riverfront property - an unparalleled opportunity to create a spectacular, diverse civic riverfront.
3. Create New Public Urban Parks Appropriate for Each City
RiverVision introduces a new public urban park infrastructure for both Davenport and Rock Island as public amenities, catalysts for development, and a means to reconnecting the cities to the riverfront. In Rock Island, RiverVision introduces a much-needed green civic space at the river's edge west of the Armory. In Davenport, RiverVision proposes improvements to LeClaire Park and the former levee area, the introduction of elevated multi-use fields in Centennial Park, and the reclamation of Crescent Park with an amphitheater and a naturalized park.
4. Identify Catalysts for Spurring Economic Development
The plan identifies opportunities for mixed use and residential development in both downtowns as well as strategic residential infill opportunities. These opportunities build on the success and momentum of current development projects in both downtowns. The plan also identifies key sites to protect and enhance for future, more sweeping economic development projects.
5. Phase Project Implementation to Demonstrate Early Success
RiverVision prioritizes phasing the implementation of the plan recommendations in order to demonstrate early success. The visibility of early successful projects is critical to moving forward with the longer term, 10-15 year implementation of the plan. Given the momentum and progress in both Davenport and Rock Island's downtowns, now is the opportune moment to capitalize on the progress already underway in both cities. Great cities are always works in progress. The recommendations outlined in the RiverVision Consensus Plan can help the Quad Cities, and in particular Davenport and Rock Island, continue to move toward the next level of excellence as a great places to live, work, and play for people and families of all ages.
Work began on RiverVision in October 2003 and was completed in Summer 2004. The steering committee divided the project into three phases: Preliminary Process, Urban Design Plan, and Linking Existing, and Planned Facilities. The Preliminary Process phase focused on gathering public input on project goals and objectives. The first in a series of public meetings was held in December 2003, attended by approximately 200 people. The design team introduced the RiverVision project and presented preliminary analysis, followed by a public input session during which over 1,500 comments were recorded. During this first phase the design team also focused on gathering site information and reviewing existing plans. In the Urban Design Plan phase, focus shifted to generating strategy options for public review. The design team presented four differing options to both city councils to the public in March 2004. The third phase focused on developing a consensus/strategic recommendation, with a public meeting and presentation to both city councils in May 2004.