Kehl contributions likely to seal Davenport casino deal

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Davenport aldermen were poised to put the finishing touches on a deal Tuesday night that will bring a land based casino to their city.

That's after developer Dan Kehl made plans to donate $1 million to local charities that serve the hungry and homeless.

Issues over personalities and profits apparently resolved, Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba and Kehl set the stage for a new era in gaming for Davenport.

"We'll get on about building, I think, which will be one of the most prosperous casinos in the state of Iowa," Gluba said. "And it will be a win-win for everybody."

Humility of Mary Shelter will benefit from the last-minute compromise. It will share the money with other local agencies over five years.

For a shelter trying to make the most of its money, Kehl's contribution will make a big difference.

"Depending on where the economy is at, it could have a huge impact on the community support that we get," said Cindi Gramenz, program director for Humility of Mary Shelter. "So, this is critical."

Kehl plans to buy Rhythm City Casino and operate it until it can be moved off the riverfront. He's preparing to build a $110-million complex along Veteran's Memorial Parkway in Davenport.

After approval from aldermen and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission in January, groundbreaking ceremonies could take place in the fall of 2014. The new casino could be ready to open during fall 2015.

"We wanted to get things started on a good foot here in Davenport," Kehl said. "We're going to be here for decades to come, and we wanted to be a valued member of the community."

King's Harvest is ready to put its share to good use. It operates a meal site and shelter among other services in Davenport. Now, it can prepare for the future.

"It's going to take a lot of stress off of us," said director Terri Gleize. "We're always worried that the donations won't come in."

After many twists and turns, a very big deal for Davenport seems ready to hit the jackpot.

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