Council tables casino deal with Kehl

Davenport aldermen put the brakes on a deal with casino developer Dan Kehl Wednesday night, saying they want more time to look at a new, last-minute proposal.

With no discussion, council members voted to table a development agreement with Dan Kehl for one cycle, with a vote of 9-1. The agreement will appear on the agenda at the next formal council meeting in two weeks.

The decision comes in light of a second proposal from developer Rodney Blackwell. Blackwell teamed up with Canadian investors, and over the weekend, he pitched a new plan to the city that promises more casino, more hotel rooms, and more money for the city.

Wednesday, residents urged council members to table the vote, saying Blackwell’s plan is worth taking a closer look at.

“This is a no-brainer. You work for us taxpayers,” said one woman.

“Me personally? I go for the money,” said another man.

Other residents, though, said “a deal is a deal” and encouraged the council to approve the original agreement with Kehl.

“Dan Kehl is an honest person. He knows what he’s doing,” said one resident.

“Is it gonna be a slap in his face?” questioned another.

Alderman Gene Meeker was among the aldermen who voted to table the agreement, but he said it was only because he knew that’s where the votes would go. Ultimately, he plans to support Kehl.

“To me, it’s a handshake. It’s an honorable thing to do. When you reach an agreement with somebody, you should carry through with it. So, I was a little disappointed tonight,” said Meeker.

Others, though, said the new plan is worth considering.

“Maybe it slows it down by two weeks, but after all this time, what is two more weeks to make sure we’re making the best deal possible for the citizens of Davenport?” said Alderman Bill Edmond.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Kehl said that although he’s disappointed, nothing has really changed.

“Logically, it makes sense for the city to step back and say, ‘Hey, we have this other proposal.’ Granted, it’s the eleventh hour, and it slows things up a little bit, but I think at the end of the day, when they compare the two proposals, they’re pretty much going to be the same,” said Kehl.

The Riverboat Development Authority, which owns the city’s gaming license, chose Kehl as the developer back in May. Kehl said he will continue to negotiate with the Isle of Capri to purchase Rhythm City. Kehl and the Isle have until October 15th to reach a deal.

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