Davenport casino proposal complicates selection process

There’s a new player at the table ready to bet on building a land based casino in Davenport. The Toronto-based Clairvest Group wants to create a $250 million project.

Company executives are expected to say more about the project during a stop in Davenport on Tuesday.

Centered by Veterans Memorial Parkway and Elmore Avenue, the development would have prime access to Interstates 80 and 74.

A soybean field could become a field of dreams. Green plants might be morphing into the color of money.

“It’s clearly a blockbuster proposal,” said Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba.

It’s where the Canadian developers want to build a new land based casino to replace Rhythm City on Davenport’s riverfront.

“Everything in front of the curtain looks very nice,” said Gary Mohr, board chairman for the Riverboat Development Authority, which holds the gaming license.

Impressive plans include a land based casino, hotel, restaurants and more.

“But we’re also interested in seeing what’s behind the curtain, which we haven’t seen any information about,” Mohr continued. “Financially, how will the whole thing work?”

“That’s my job as mayor,” Gluba said. “What’s in the best interest of the public, not the gaming interest.”

Yet this proposal comes just days before a scheduled Wednesday city council vote to endorse developer Dan Kehl. He has plans to buy Rhythm City Casino from parent company Isle of Capri and create a land based casino.

“To me, it’s a matter of ethics,” said Alderman-at-Large Gene Meeker. “They negotiated in good faith. We reached an agreement. To me, it’s important that we continue with this process.”

“It’s not an exclusive agreement, either way,” Gluba said.

While Clairvest Group’s proposal looks promising, it arrives at the last minute and may be too late. Kehl and Isle have until October 15 to complete their deal.

The Riverboat Development Authority remains focused on that mission. It seems like the right thing to do.

“When there’s a written agreement on the table that gives both parties until the 15th of October, we need to honor that agreement,” Mohr said. “And we will.”

“The bigger, the better,” Gluba concluded. “Our job is to get the best deal for Davenport.”

It’s a big deal that apparently has some hands yet to play.

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