Building a thriving Cedar Rapids is something that we hope everyone can get behind. Many times we have seen development in our community stifled and threatened by Mother Nature, and yet our resilience has prevailed. Living, working, and investing in the community, we are working toward the goal of revitalization in a very tangible way — one project at a time.
If you live in or near Cedar Rapids, you may have heard of Aspect Architecture and Hunter Companies. Both of our companies are local, both contribute to the community, and both are drivers of urban renewal. The products of our investment, new construction, and restoration can be seen all over Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa — from St. Luke’s and Rockwell Collins, to Edgewood Station and the Linn County Sherriff’s Office.
One of our many priorities is to drive growth in the downtown area. Not only would we like to spark new residential and commercial projects, but we’d also like to make downtown a destination — driving business to existing retailers, eateries, and amenities. This is why we sought out Wild Rose as a partner and together, put forth a proposal for an urban, boutique casino in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Wild Rose, like Aspect and Hunter Companies, is an Iowa-based company that has driven growth in communities like Jefferson, Emmetsburg, and Clinton. Wild Rose has a successful track record of working with local stakeholders to develop thriving casinos that ultimately contribute to local economies in a very positive way.
In Cedar Rapids, we have introduced a unique casino project. This “boutique” casino, unlike those previously proposed, would not include a hotel or formal restaurant component. The casino would be right-sized and allow the many local restaurants and nearby hotels to benefit from the influx of visitors. Also unique is the fact that Aspect and Hunter Companies would design and develop the project, which would also include commercial office space, and Wild Rose would simply lease the space for the casino.
Development of this project represents tens of millions in direct investment, and operations at the casino alone would create over 200 jobs and result in millions of dollars in payroll and benefits for Cedar Rapidians. A relationship between Wild Rose and the Cedar River Alliance for Gaming (CRAG) was also recently announced. This nonprofit organization, comprised of local leaders and chaired by Dick Meisterling, would oversee the distribution of a portion of the Wild Rose Cedar Rapids’ gambling revenues. These dollars would go to worthy community causes, such as shelters, education initiatives, and first response efforts.
For these reasons and many more, we feel our proposed project is an ideal fit for Cedar Rapids, and is truly designed with our community in mind. Its development would be a catalyst for the area, helping Aspect, Hunter Companies, and an array of Cedar Rapids’ businesses and residents realize the dream of a vibrant downtown.
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• Steve Emerson is the president of Aspect Architecture. Hunter Parks is the owner of Hunter Companies.