‘Why has our city failed us?’ Davenport residents furious after building collapse

Emergency crews are on the scene of what appears to be a partial building collapse in downtown...
Emergency crews are on the scene of what appears to be a partial building collapse in downtown Davenport.(KWQC)
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 5:38 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KCRG) - Five people are still unaccounted for more than 48 hours since part of a six-story apartment building collapsed in Davenport.

The apartment building, a former hotel known as “The Davenport,” collapsed Sunday afternoon. The building was home to more than 50 tenants.

Officials say two of those five people still unaccounted for may be inside that building and potentially in the rubble that’s already fallen.

Just one day after the collapse, the property owner was served with an “order for demolition.”

Tuesday afternoon into the evening, a crowd of protestors gathered outside the fence surrounding the rubble of the apartment building—Kelly Cook was one of them. She had lived in the building with her five kids until they moved out in August 2022 after just three months.

“I wouldn’t put somebody in there that I loved,” said Cook.

She said the building was dirty and unsafe. “There was pee-water that would come down the walls and the kitchen,” she said.

She added the owner of the property, Andrew Wold, was not responsive to complaints.

“It’s like somebody who has a bad fungus on their nail, and they go get their nails done and paint it. That doesn’t mean that the fungus isn’t there,” said Cook.

What Cook was describing was just the start of the anger in Davenport.

Moselle Singh has a friend who lived in the building at the time of the collapse. Singh grew up in the area, and drove to Davenport from where she now lives in Madison to join the couple dozen people protesting near the site of the collapse.

“Just like any community, there are certain areas that are properly funded,” said Singh. “There are other parts that are systemically neglected. And oftentimes, these are racial divides, and class divides. And this is an area—it’s very clear that in this situation, the owner of the building, Andrew Wold, took advantage of this situation.”

Singh and others say their anger is partially based on what they perceive as continued neglect.

According to the city of Davenport’s website, an inspection report for 324 Main Street was issued as recently as May 24th. A check of the report on the 30th shows the property failed its inspection. TV9 reached out to the city of Davenport to ask about officials’ inspection process, but did not receive a statement.

Another factor fueling the anger simmering on the street is that officials announced plans to demolish the building, even though it was possible two people were still in the ruins.

“Literally, it’s like people in earthquakes survive days and days and days under rubble. You don’t think somebody could be alive right now?” asked another protestor, Tim Depauw.

“The fact that they were planning to demolish this building when they didn’t even know how many people were missing. This is serious. This is like, I don’t even know how to hold that pain in my body,” said Singh.

For those who lived in the building, the collapse left them homeless and in need of a place to stay while they start to rebuild their lives. It’s left the community as a whole with questions.

“Where is our city? Why has our city failed us?” said Singh.

“People are in combat, and they don’t leave people behind. We’re in the middle of downtown. There’s no reason,” said Cook.

On May 30th, 2023, the property manager told ABCnews that they were working on refunding all deposits to tenants as quickly as possible. The owner of the building, Davenport LLC released the following statement:

Our thoughts and prayers are with our tenants and families during this difficult time. We would like to thank the brave men and women of Davenport fire, Davenport police department, and all other first responders for their tireless efforts to ensure everyone’s safety. We have been working closely with the American Red Cross and other agencies to assist the displaced tenants affected by this event. We are forever grateful to them for all of their assistance with our tenants. Andrew Wold, Owner Sarah Tyler, Libby Mills & the entire property management team