Old CR Casino Land up for Development

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Land set aside on the west side of the Cedar River as the possible site of a downtown Cedar Rapids casino will soon go up for grabs for another development plan.

The eight acres of prime development land sits on the edge of the core downtown parts of Cedar Rapids. It’s divided, almost equally, by First Avenue southwest.

Members of the city’s Development Committee met Tuesday morning and heard of plans to involve the public in what might go on the two large tracts instead of a casino. The full city council should begin discussing a “visioning” plan for the site in the coming months.

Plans are to present ideas to the public in late summer.

Fred Timko, who owns Down to Earth Development, says an eight acre site close to downtown doesn’t come on the market very often. So he wouldn’t be surprised if the old casino site draws developer interest from outside the area.

“I’d be real surprised if we don’t see some St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City developers who would come in. Cedar Rapids has a pretty good reputation and the city is certainly growing. I think it would attract some national developers,” Timko said.

Timko, who has done projects near the vacant sites, says housing would probably be part of any proposal since rental units or condos near downtown continue to sell out quickly.

But city leaders will probably look for more.

Ann Poe, a council member, says she’d want to see a “wow” factor in any proposal and expects the public wouldn’t settle for anything but a “big” idea.

“Because of its strategic location. Because of the excitement surrounding it. Because so many people already did have in their minds a casino, they want to see something wonderful there,” she said.

Poe says one big idea might be some sort of entertainment venue that would draw people in. But what that might be, with a casino out of the picture, is not certain.

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