So “Cedar Crossing” it is.
That’s the name of a casino project proposed for downtown Cedar Rapids. The official license application is now in the hands of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Local investors turned in their homework early, last Friday. The application was due today at 2 p.m..
Cedar Crossing. How does that strike you? Not “Roulette Rapids” or “Flood ‘O Bucks” or “The Sixth Smell” or “Mount Winmore.” Just be glad no one ever asks me to name anything. Ever.
By the way, the sixth smell is money. More than $150 million is being sunk into this project.
I guess Cedar Crossing is fine, just fine. Although it sounds more like an outlet mall or a town home development than a gilded gambling palace peddling the tantalizing possibilities of riches and sin. It could be a bar in Washington D.C. Or perhaps an industrial park near Houston, Texas. Not surprising that this combo has been used before. Cedars and crossings are all over the place.
Original or not, its backers contend we’re in for a real economic development treat. From today’s news release:
While the Cedar Crossing Casino vision has grown to offer amenities which will help reshape Downtown Cedar Rapids, studies released with the application show its positive economic impact would benefit the entire region and the state. The $165 million development includes the casino projected costs at $139 million plus $25.3 additional for the public parking structure. Two studies regarding the development’s economic impact were submitted by Cedar Rapids Development Group and Linn County Gaming Association with the casino’s application to Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
One study conducted by TMG Consulting titled “Casino Gaming Market Assessment” finds that gross gaming revenue share (gaming taxes and fees) paid to Linn County Gaming Association, state and local government agencies would add up to nearly $100 million in Cedar Crossing Casino’s first five years of operation. “The casino development would help relieve tax payer burden here and across the state,” Brent Oleson, Linn County Commissioner and Linn County Gaming Association board member said. “You would be hard-pressed to find another development that could generate so much positive impact.”
Cedar Crossing Casino is forecast to create more than 450 jobs. Also, 125 short-term construction jobs can be anticipated during the construction phase of the Cedar Rapids development. The majority of the new jobs created at the casino require no casino experience. Cedar Crossing Casino would hire and provide training for new hires. Other jobs would be created based on purchases the casino makes directly, casino visitor spending and the payroll new casino jobs provide.
According to Strategic Economics’ Study dated January 2013, Cedar Crossing Casino project will provide an estimated $78 million of economic impact each year. With $48 million coming directly from Cedar Crossing Casino and an additional nearly $30.5 million of impact coming from business and consumer spending related to the new development. In addition, construction of Cedar Crossing Casino will produce an economic impact of more than $70 million; $49 million directly and 24.7 from business and consumer spending related to Cedar Crossing Casino’s construction.
This will be an “urban casino,” much different from what Mayor Ron Corbett dubbed “cornfield casinos” in other parts of the state. Our joint will be a flashy, multi-level Vegas on the river, not slots in the sticks.
It’s going to have breathtaking downtown views, the Sinclair Steak House, a nod to the city’s meatpacking history, and the Kingston Market Buffet, an all-you can eat tribute to the sacrifices of our west bank pioneer settlers. They bravely tamed the wilderness with hopes that, someday, peel-and-eat shrimp might be available in massive quantities.
This is also a significant architectural addition to this fair city. Lead investor Steve Gray offered a description in this morning’s Gazette:
Gray described the casino design as a “synthesized blend” of the contemporary with glazed glass at the entryway and the historic with the use of native Anamosa stone as well as brick similar to that used on the historic Louis Sullivan-designed bank a block from the casino site.
The glass entryway, he said, will be lighted at night to create “a beacon” for the casino within the Kingston Village neighborhood, and the casino and its exterior patios will have great views of the Cedar River and downtown Cedar Rapids on the other side of it, he added.
Gray attributed the design to OPN Architects Inc., Cedar Rapids, The Friedmutter Group, Las Vegas, and Jonathan Swain, one of three former Peninsula Gaming LLC executives whom Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC has hired to manage the Cedar Rapids casino and who also are investors in the casino. Peninsula Gaming had owned and operated the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque and Diamond Jo Casino in Worth County before selling the venues and three out-of-state ones in November 2012.
OPN, based in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, has certainly put its mark on this town, with the Great America Building, the new downtown library, the Convention Complex, the Federal Courthouse, the Hotel at Kirkwood, to name a few. I’ve actually heard a few rumblings recently from folks about OPN “fatigue.” With success comes overexposure, I guess.
The firm does have a distinctive style:
I definitely should have gone into the glass business.
I’ll probably be writing more about Cedar Crossing later in the week. But, first, I’d like to collect your latest opinions on the casino project, its name, its design, its potential economic effects, whatever you want to sound off on. It’s free, and all you can eat. Jump in.