More casino proposals for Cedar Rapids emerge

City Council being asked to endorse 2 projects

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Two separate proposals for new casinos in Cedar Rapids will go before the City Council next week, according to documents released Friday.

Plans include a revival of the failed 2014 casino proposal now called Cedar Crossing on the River, and a new pitch called Cedar Crossing Central, which would replace the Five Seasons Parking Ramp near the DoubleTree Hotel and Convention Center.

The Cedar Rapids Development Group, which was behind the Cedar Crossing bid rejected by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission in 2014, is involved in both.

Overhead map of the two proposed Cedar Crossing locations

Those proposals are in addition to a pitch by local developers and Wild Rose Entertainment for a “boutique” casino across First Avenue SE from the DoubleTree.

The plans come as the filing deadline nears for consideration of a Linn County gambling license by the gaming commission — 3 p.m. Monday. The commission, which may make a decision in November, could reject all the proposals or grant one or more licenses.

The City Council is being asked Tuesday to approve three memorandums of understanding with the initial investors, Cedar Rapids Development Group.

In the first, for Cedar Crossing on the River, the council would support an $165 million redevelopment of city-owned land between First Street and Third Street SW and between Second Avenue SW and Interstate 380.

Street View of the proposed location for Cedar Crossing on the River

This would include 355 jobs on site, 295 indirect jobs tied to the casino, and another 1,283 short-term jobs during construction, according to city documents.

Economic figures predict a $26.8 million boost to household earnings and an economic output of $106.6 million. If approved and built, the project is expected to generate $142.7 million for the state, county and city in the first five years, including $8.8 million for Cedar Rapids and Linn County; $17.6 million for local charitable causes; and $116.3 million for the state.

The city would share the cost of constructing a parking lot of 1,000 spaces, and the city would receive 1 percent of adjusted gross receipts of the casino for 50 years. The casino would be required to employ at least 350 people.

In the second agreement, for Cedar Crossing Central, the city would agree to an $105 million redevelopment of the Five Season Parking Ramp between Fourth and Fifth streets NE and between First and A avenues NE.

Street View of the proposed location for Cedar Crossing Central

This proposal promises 231 permanent jobs on site, 196 indirect jobs and 601 short-term jobs during construction. Household earnings are expected to increase by $18.2 million with an economic output of $72.9 million, according to city documents.

Economic impact is projected at $109.1 million in the first five years of operation, including $4.5 million for Cedar Rapids and Linn County, $11.6 million for charitable causes and $93 million for the state.

The city would agree to help pay for a parking garage of 750 to 900 spaces, while the casino would pay the city 1.5 percent of the adjusted gross receipts above $50 million for 50 years and agree to employ a minimum of 250 people.

The city and Cedar Rapids Development Group also would work together to get permission for air rights to develop along the Fourth Street NE corridor between the U.S. Cellular Center and the parking ramp above Union Pacific tracks.

The third agreement is for a 10-year extension of the understandings through Oct. 9, 2029.

The Cedar Rapids Development Group would pay $75,000 each year of the agreement, but could can cancel at any time. The city does not have a termination clause.

The city of Cedar Rapids and backers of the Wild Rose boutique casino have no memorandum of understanding.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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