In Front of a "Full House," Davenport's Aldermen Say They're "All In" on the Interstate.
During a Special City Council Meeting on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, Davenport City Council voted unanimously to move forward with its casino plans to buy the Rhythm City Casino and build a community-owned, land-based casino.
The vote directs the Council's Negotiating Team to do four things...
1) ...start negotiations with Ingenus Management. Ken Mimmack, CEO of the Minnesota-based company, says his proposal includes a casino and hotel in the Southeast Section of the I-280/I-80 Corridor.
"The traffic is going to be fantastic and the access is extremely important, as well as the ability to expand," says Mimmack. "There’s plenty of room to do the things we want to do and create an economic opportunity and bring the revenues to the area, so we’re very excited."
Alderman Bill Edmond, who represents the Second Ward where this project would be located, says he's also excited.
"Not so much that it’s in my ward, but that it’s in Northwest Davenport," says Alderman Edmond. "The fact that we’re putting in the West End Diversion Tunnel enables that end of town to be developed so I’m really looking forward to it and I’m really looking forward to maximizing the revenues that we can get out of a casino."
The Council's Negotiating Team will conduct a cost/benefit analysis of multiple I-80 locations as well as look at other design options.
The other part of Mimmack's proposal includes a small scale gaming parlor, or "boutique" casino, that would be located in Downtown, Davenport near the RiverCenter on 2nd Street. In the coming weeks, the Council's Negotiating Team will determine whether some other existing downtown property owner could more cost effectively deliver that option, which Mimmack says he is open to talking about.
"We certainly like the parlor idea, because that was part of our presentation," he told WQAD Wednesday night. "We’re happy to be taking this step with the city and we look forward to talking to them about whatever they want to talk about.
"The key is doing this right, doing it with the right folks, and achieving what we want and that is maximizing the license, so however best we can do that all together and create a win-win... that’s really what we’re about," he added.
2) ...ask the Davenport Community Improvement Corporation (DCIC), the non-profit Casino Board of Director created by the city to oversee the casino, to "conduct intensive due diligence on Ingenus' management team, and review management and operator options otherwise available, to determine the optimal scope of service and necessary fees," according to the Special City Council Meeting Agenda.
The DCIC is currently working on an operator's contract with the Riverboat Development Authority (RDA), which is the non-profit organization that holds Davenport's gaming license. The RDA receives a percentage of revenue from the casino, which is currently Rhythm City Casino, then gives the money to area organizations and agencies in the form of grants. Under this new plan, it's said that the RDA's revenue would double. However, as News 8's John David reported on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, the process to come to an agreement with the DCIC is challenging.
3) ..."solicit competitive financing agreement with local financial institutions, as a potential source of capital to use in part, or in whole, in lieu of issuing bonds," according to the Special City Council Meeting Agenda.
4) ...update the City Council no later than Wednesday, February 20th, 2013.
February 21st, 2013 is the last day an item can be placed on the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's (IRGC) March 7th Agenda, which is when Davenport City Leaders would like to present their plan to the IRGC for approval.
Alderman Bill Boom said Wednesday that he and others met with the other developer, Restoration St. Louis (renovator of the Hotel Blackhawk), on Wednesday morning. He says RSL is withdrawing its proposal for the time being to allow the Council's Negotiating Team to explore Ingenus' proposal. RSL's proposal includes a downtown location called City Square. RSL would use historic property, the Putnam and Parker Buildings located within 2nd and 3rd Streets & Brady and Main Streets, to create a casino, hotel, restaurants, office space, a parking garage, a rooftop nightclub, and more.
Alderman Edmond says RSL has said they will move forward with renovating that area, despite withdrawing its proposal for a casino there.