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Iowa funding snafu threatens $71.5-million Davenport project

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Time is running out to turn a Davenport field into a fantasy.

"We could lose this project to another state," warned Mayor Bill Gluba.

That's after an Iowa board rejected funding the River 80 project on Wednesday.

The state turned down $17.5 million in funding for the $71.5 million project.

Plans feature a hotel, theater, retail and recreation to enhance the new Rhythm City Casino. It would go on 25 acres near Interstates 80 and 74.

"It's a no-brainer that the state would like to see that kind of development in Iowa," Gluba said.

But Gluba warns that without the state tax rebates, the development could be lost to Jumer's Crossing in Illinois.

"There's only room for one," Gluba said. "It's either going to be in Iowa, or it's going to be in Illinois."

It does not impact plans for the new casino, which remain a firm go.

Iowa developer Rodney Blackwell was out of town on Thursday and unavailable to comment.

Gluba says the area's population is only large enough to support the River 80 project in Davenport or Jumer's Crossing. That makes the Davenport push more urgent.

Davenport will make another pitch in Des Moines on June 20. Otherwise, the project faces at least a year delay.

"Why wait a year if the money is there?" Gluba questioned.

For now, time is running out to capture this investment. Mayor Gluba says that now is the time to decide.

"Let's cut through some of the nonsense," he concluded. "Let's get it done."

They want to get fantasy from that field before time runs out.