Cedar Rapids Selling Street, Alley to Casino

By Rick Smith, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Steve Gray has said investors in the Cedar Crossing Casino will turn ground on the proposed $150-plus-million casino and parking ramp immediately if they secure a state gaming license on April 17.

To help that happen, the City Council plans today, as spelled out in its development agreement with the casino investors, to vacate and sell to the casino investors the piece of Second Street SW between A Avenue NW and Second Avenue SW and the alley between First and Second streets and A Avenue NW and Second Avenue SW.

The casino investors will pay $732,730 for the street and alley, money that will be kept by the city.

Cedar Crossing Casino will be built between First and Third streets SW and First and Second avenues SW if the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approves a gaming license.

"We're hopeful and optimistic, and we're ready to go," Gray said on Monday.

Gray, who heads up casino investor group Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC, has said the investors hope to open the casino on July 4, 2015.

The previously negotiated agreement between the city and casino investors also calls for the city to sell about 7.5 acres of city-owned land to the investor group for its assessed value, $2.2 million. This money will revert to the federal government, which provided the city funds to buy flood-damaged properties on the site and demolish them.

The land and street and alley sales are contingent on the casino investors securing a gaming license.

The casino investors already have purchased a few other properties owned privately on the proposed casino site.

On Thursday, the investor group will appear in front of the City Planning Commission to secure a change of zoning for the site to permit a planned-unit development for the casino and parking ramp. The ramp is slated to go up across First Avenue West from the casino and to be connected via skywalk.

The city will pay off the $28-million parking ramp from the increase in property-tax revenue that will come with the new casino.

The investors will pay the city an additional $1 million at the closing of the land purchase and 1 percent of the adjusted gross revenue from the casino for 50 years. The latter is expected to start at $800,000 a year.

In turn, the city has agreed to spend up to $2 million for street, lighting and other infrastructure improvements around the casino site.
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