Downtown Bettendorf Organization celebrated accomplishments and details future plans at annual meeting

Downtown Bettendorf Organization (DBO) celebrated the fiscal year 2021 successes of the Downtown Bettendorf Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) and outlined downtown highlights expected in the coming year.

“Downtown has turned the corner, our roads are realigned, the new Interstate 74 Bridge is coming to completion and the urban park’s construction is going to start in the fall,” DBO Executive Director Ryan Jantzi said. “That is creating more energy downtown and people are realizing this is real. The sky’s the limit on what we want to create down here.”

Some of the DBO’s highlights discussed during the annual meeting for July 2020 – June 2021 included:

  • New development and investments – With the completion of the Bridges Lofts and the new TBK Bank Building, Downtown Bettendorf has seen more than $32 million in investment in the last year along with the addition and the edition of 9 new small businesses.
  • Creation of a new pocket park – The new park, located east of Scuba Adventures, offers greenspace for outdoor recreation, small gatherings, entertainment and rotating food trucks. The park will be named Be the Light Park in honor of the late Dale Owen’s downtown leadership. The former Ascentra Credit Union CEO died in November 2020. The DBO’s vice chair for FY2021, Owen was a driving force in creating a downtown Bettendorf where all can thrive. “The park was a win for the west side of downtown, which has always felt overlooked because most of the new development was on the east side of the bridge,” Jantzi said.
  • Completion of Downtown Housing Study – A new study, commissioned along with the other regional downtowns, found that downtown Bettendorf could support an additional 375 market-rate apartment units and 40-80 units of affordable housing. “The reason behind the study was to show developers and lending agencies that this is a safe bet down here,” he said. The study estimated that a full housing build-out could yield an additional $138.6 million in new investment.
  • Capital improvements — Other downtown improvements included new gateway signage, street bumpouts, landscaping and other amenities all designed to promote a pedestrian-friendly downtown.
  • Relationship building – By strengthening its relationships with City of Bettendorf elected officials and staff, DBO increased communication and collaboration in the areas of economic development, negligent property owners, safety and snow removal.
  • Development of a marketing campaign – DBO launched a targeted campaign to promote the wealth of downtown home improvement businesses and sports bars. DBO also participated in a new Quad Cities Downtowns video and promoted Shop Local efforts with the Chamber’s Keep It QC campaign and Visit Quad Cities’ Restaurant Week. It also hosted its Be Downtown celebration at a new location to promote the new bridge and the future urban park.
  • COVID-19 resources – By leveraging the work of the Quad Cities Chamber, DBO also provided support and outreach to all the businesses in the SSMID, members and non-members alike.

Fiscal year 2021 marked the first full year that the SSMID, a self-imposed tax approved by the downtown shareholders, has generated revenues. The DBO has a $300,000 annual budget aimed at helping improve the properties, businesses and constituencies in the downtown district. Its budget includes: $100,000 from the City of Bettendorf, $50,000 from Isle of Capri Casino and $150,000 derived from the property owners in the SSMID.

Looking ahead, Jantzi said DBO will continue pushing for infrastructure improvements, promoting new development and investment particularly on downtown’s western edge, and will launch a new grant program for downtown stakeholders. The DBO Façade and Interior Grant programs will distribute a total of $50,000 – up to a maximum of $15,000 per applicant – for interior and façade improvements of downtown properties.