Shriners' property now in play for jobs

Midland Scientific, MidAmerican Energy locate in North Scott


Reports of a 1,000-job distribution center in a Davenport portion of the North Scott school district follow commercial expansions already on tap to bring more jobs and investment within school district boundaries.

Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation director Roy Wennlund offered no information on the reported distribution center, but said plenty of prospects are looking at GDRC property that mostly falls in the North Scott school district.

“It’s been a perfect storm in a lot of ways. We’ve been awakened to logistic challenges in America since the pandemic. Closer-to-home logistical systems are probably better,” Wennlund said.

Uncomfirmed reports published and broadcast last week identified GDRC property just purchased from the Shriners on the west side of Division Street. Wennlund was part of the negotiating team that secured the 158 acres west of Division Street that has been owned for years by Shriners, the Florida-based children’s hospital charity. For years, GDRC representatives struggled to get the Shriners’ attention, or even returned calls.

Wennlund said the charity introduced a new negotiator who helped seal the deal. GDRC obtained options on four, 40-acre parcels with a farmland value of $385,940.

“I really think it was new people. I was new two years ago in my role. The Shriners representative was new. We had a good initial conversation. I think frankly it was introduction of new folks into the mix,” Wennlund said. “The Shriners have been superb to work with and we made a deal in December for a three-year option.”

Wennlund said the GDRC is seeking state certification on that site, but acknowledged it could move ahead on any project without it.

The project reported for the Shiners’ property included infrastructure improvements that Eldridge Mayor Marty O’Boyle would welcome.

“I know it had been hard to get the Shriners people moving on that property. I have to congratulate Davenport and the GDRC for their great efforts to secure more jobs and development,” O’Boyle said.

Project reports include improvements to Hillandale Road, something that Eldridge has supported for years, O’Boyle said.

“That kind of infrastructure can only be good for Eldridge,” he said. Any improvements to Hillandale give Eldridge better access to workers in Davenport. “Now, this might bring some help from the state,” he said.

MidAmerican plans new regional center

Wennlund said a 188,000 square-foot MidAmerican regional center will break ground soon, and 33,000 square-foot medical supply warehouse just opened on property sold by GDRC.

The GDRC also is recertifying the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center, which has 62 available acres. He said MidAmerican plans a new regional staff and vehicle storage center on  39.05 acres at Hillandale and Enterprise Way. 

GDRC bought the property from the city of Davenport on Dec. 22, 2016, for $1.136 million. GDRC sold it to MidAmerican March 7, 2018, for $1.78 million.

Wennlund said MidAmerican will consolidate regional office staff in a new building, and create storage space for its regional fleet.

Utiltily representative Geoff Greenwood said more details are coming.

"We are evaluating our options for a new service center in the Quad Cities that would serve as the home base for our local gas and electric crews, fleet and maintenance services and centralized inventory storage," Greenwood said Tuesday. "We currently own property in Davenport that could potentially be used for this future development, and we expect to finalize our plans in the coming weeks.

Midland Scientific

A quarter mile south, Midland Scientific just opened a 33,000 square-foot distribution center for medical supplies.

Center manage Nate Lord said its part of the Omaha-based firms expansion following a strong year providing medical supplies through the pandemic.

The firm moved from a west Davenport location, added employees and expects more growth at the new site.

“A lot of businesses got hurt through the pandemic, but that’s not the case with us. It didn’t hurt us at all.”

Midland provides lab equipment, PPE, gloves, masks and other needs. “Those were flying off the shelf,” Lord said.

The new warehouse is powered by 224 rooftop solar panels, and includes room for expansion, or perhaps another tenant, he said.