Cedar Rapids Casino Developers Hope to Secure City-Owned Land for Resort

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The Cedar Rapids Development Group (CRDG), the backers of the stalled casino resort project called “Cedar Crossing,” will make its pitch to the Cedar Rapids City Council next month as to why it should have first dibs on a city-owned plot of land just west of the downtown area.

Iowa casino Cedar Crossing
A rendering of the proposed Cedar Crossing casino resort in Cedar Rapids, Ia. The $250 million casino hopes to receive a gaming license once Iowa’s two-year moratorium on new gaming permits being issued expires in July 2024. (Image: Peninsula Pacific Entertainment)

The CRDG consists of local businesspeople who believe bringing a casino to town would provide the Iowa town with an economic spark. City officials were supportive of the project when it was last presented in 2022, but the development was halted after the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) a year ago this month passed a two-year moratorium on new casino licenses. The stoppage prevents the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission from issuing new commercial gaming licenses until July 1, 2024.

Cedar Rapids officials have for many years scolded the state gaming agency for seemingly overlooking the town for a casino. Efforts to secure a casino license failed in both 2014 and 2017, as state officials sided with the state’s 19 riverboats in claiming that the market was already oversaturated.

The two-year moratorium signed by Reynolds came in response to new casinos opening in Nebraska, and further claims by Iowa’s gaming interests that a Cedar Rapids casino would hurt their operations.

City Pitch

During the Cedar Rapids City Council meeting on July 11, representatives from the CRDG will go before the council to make their case as to why the city should enter into an option-to-purchase agreement for a roughly 25-acre site currently owned by the city. The land is located between F and I Avenue NW and First and Fifth Streets NW.

In the proposed agreement, CRDG would pay $165,000 to the city to establish the agreement and possess the rights to purchase the lot at a fair market value.

The option-to-purchase deal would run through Dec. 31, 2025. If the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is considering a Cedar Rapids casino but hasn’t yet approved the project, the CRDG deal would allow a one-time extension through Dec. 31, 2026, for an additional $55,000 fee to the city.

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) is CRDG’s gaming partner. Jonathan Swain, president of the California-based gaming firm, told The Gazette that the company simply wants a chance to make its pitch to the state as to why such an undertaking is warranted.

I’m perpetually optimistic both about the commission and the legislature,” said Swain. “All we ask for is the opportunity to present our case before both bodies and make this opportunity for Cedar Rapids come to life.”

PGA Tour star Zach Johnson, who was raised in Cedar Rapids, was part of the 2022 casino pitch. One of the town’s most recognizable and celebrated names, Johnson’s involvement was to include a sportsbook and taproom called “The Clubhouse by Zach Johnson.”

Casino Details

The option-to-purchase agreement going before the Cedar Rapids City Council would require that any casino project include a minimum investment of $150 million.

The one-story facility would span at least 125,000 square feet, with the casino counting for a minimum of 45,000 square feet. Another 12,000 square feet would be allocated for restaurants, and there would be more than 1,500 parking spaces.

The developers have also agreed to direct 2.25% of the casino’s gross gaming revenue to a local fund that would be used to support economic development, affordable housing, trails, and infrastructure in Cedar Rapids.

The post Cedar Rapids Casino Developers Hope to Secure City-Owned Land for Resort appeared first on Casino.org.

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