Single firm eligible to be "master developer" of casino site in Cedar Rapids

The First & First West site on the west side of the Cedar River near downtown. This eight-acre site was set aside years ago as the preferred location for a casino. The city is now asking for developers interested in putting another project here.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An Indianapolis based firm submitted the only qualified proposal to lead development of the land once set aside for a casino in Cedar Rapids.

Flaherty and Collins said the project at the site now called "First and First West" could top the $50 million value.

"The First & First West site is an opportunity to create connectivity and our development will contribute to this connectivity," the proposal stated.

The firm said it envisioned a high-density mix of commercial and residential development for the site across just the Cedar River from downtown. That would also include public space for parks and a boardwalk area to "create a destination". It said the specifics of what is built there would be shaped by a public approval process.

"Our projects target and cater towards empty-nesters and young professionals-low service cost residents with high disposable incomes and tax revenues seeking an urban lifestyle," the proposal read.

The city council still needs to approve Flaherty and Collins, which could happen as early as March. If that happens, the city says community input meetings could happen starting in July with a master plan in place by the end of the year.

City leaders have said the land at the corner of First Street and First Avenue Southwest is a unique opportunity for a showcase development for the city. The city bought out the land after the 2008 flood and had set it aside for a potential casino. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has twice denied Cedar Rapids a gaming license to build that casino, which sent the city back to the drawing board to develop the land.