Wild Rose, which operates three casinos in Iowa, announced in September that it was interested in developing a boutique casino in Cedar Rapids. Local developers Hunter Parks of Hunter Cos and Steve Emerson of Aspect Architecture have teamed up with Wild Rose to develop a $40 million boutique casino in First Avenue SE which is across from the Doubletree hotel and convention center.
The investors recently announced that they have formed a new non-profit board called Cedar River Alliance for Gaming. The board has seven members who will be responsible for approving the gambling license application and overseeing the distribution of a percentage of revenue generated by the casino towards charities and organizations in Linn County. Dick Meisterling, who is the chairman of the board and a vice president at Thompson and Associates, was happy to be a part of the new board and was confident that this new gaming project will bring immense benefits to the Cedar Rapids community.
The boutique casino is expected to generate around $42 million in revenue and based on state law, a minimum of 3 percent of this revenue will be directed towards local charities. Wild Rose is in the process of conducting a feasibility study which is expected to be completed in early 2017. The president and chief operating officer of Wild Rose, Tom Timmons said that the company plans to apply for a casino license at the start of 2017.
Back in 2014, the Cedar Rapids Development Group led a multi-million dollar referendum campaign to get gaming approval in Linn County as the group wanted to develop a $174 million casino in Cedar Rapids that would also have a hotel, restaurant and a number of other facilities. However the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission rejected the proposal and signed a deal with the group stating that it would not approve any other casino projects in the region. The commission has continued to state that it will honor that agreement and the group has also not given any indication that it will make an exception for the Wild Rose boutique casino to be developed in Linn County.
However, this is not stopping Wild Rose from proceeding with their development plans as Tom Timmons stated that he does not believe that the city will break the memorandum of understanding it has with the group. Timmons went on to say that while it would nice to get the support of the city, it wasn’t necessary as the boutique casino will be developed on private land.
In a statement, Timmons said “As long as the area is zoned for it, it would be like any other business at that point. It goes back to the approval process with the Racing and Gaming Commission. We are moving forward. No one (in City Hall) has said we don’t want it, so we are going ahead.”
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission backed Timmons’s statement and confirmed that city support was not required as private land was being used and Mayor Ron Corbett of City Rapids said that the city was not hostile to the boutique casino proposal.