Long time tenant of partially collapsed building speaks out

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 11:40 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Army veteran Steve France lived at The Davenport for 14 years.

He collects vintage photography equipment, all of it is still in the rubble. Over a week since the collapse he’s staying with a friend figuring out how to recover.

“I heard that thunderous boom,” France said. I thought the back of the wall had fallen off.”

The long-term tenant was watching a movie when part of the apartment building came down on May 28.

“I get down to the second floor from the fourth floor, and I go around the corner, and the whole hallway was gone,” France said. “On the left was laundry, and to the right side was Ryan Hitchcock’s apartment, and it was just outdoors.”

In his time renting at the downtown Davenport apartment building, he’s seen owners come and go.

“I thought things were gonna get better with [Andrew] Wold taking over,” France said. “But even the sanitary conditions dropped. I mean, it got bad.”

France often helped out by maintaining the common areas.

Even though he was handier than most he said it doesn’t take an expert to figure out something was wrong in the building.

“I’m not an engineer, but you don’t have to be an engineer to know that they should have had some I-beams and some sort of welded structure inside holding that second-floor slab up,” France said.

As an avid photographer, he’s captured annual Quad City moments like Blue’s Fest or others within his own family.

“I can’t work on cars and trucks anymore because I’m you know, full arthritis, but I can fix up those old cameras,” France said. “ [I] take them around the block for, a shoot and run some film through them.”

Many of those pictures and vintage equipment he said are now irreplaceable.

“I think that’s the worst stuff,” France said. “Everything else can be replaced, but certain things are just .... they’re priceless.”

France said he has a good group of friends supporting him as he looks to rebuild his life.

“The VA has been absolutely fantastic,” France said. “It’s just gonna be a matter of time, five years from now I’ll look back on it. Right now, it’s still a little shaky.”

The man has contacted a lawyer. In the meantime, attorneys for two of the other residents will hold a press conference Wednesday at 1 p.m.