Amrit Gill of Restoration St. Louis was critical Thursday of a consultant’s report that appears to have kicked the Davenport City Council’s favor toward an interstate-based casino and away from his downtown proposal.

The analysis of Restoration St. Louis’ downtown casino proposal and Ingenus Management and Consulting’s plan for an interstate casino and downtown branch was presented to aldermen Wednesday by casino consultant Gary Buettner.

Revenue estimates by Buettner showed the Ingenus project would return $91.3 million in gross gaming revenue and $11 million in net revenue to the city, while the Restoration

St. Louis project would provide $67.2 million in gross gaming revenue and $10.5 million in revenue to the city. The city revenue in the figures is before any debt service is paid.

The city is in the process of acquiring the Rhythm City casino from the Isle of Capri for $46 million. The city’s bond counsel estimates annual debt payments at $3.5 million.

“Have they really looked at the numbers?” Gill said of Buettner’s report. “He has been given his marching orders and told what to do.”

Speaking to the council Wednesday, Buettner conceded it was difficult to compare two different projects, and he tried to distill them down to the revenue numbers.

Restoration St. Louis, guided by Amrit Gill and his wife, Amy, has control of the block in downtown Davenport bounded by 2nd and 3rd and Main and Harrison streets where the casino was planned. Gill didn’t know what the fate of that property would be if the casino plan were scrapped.

The Gills point out that a downtown casino would boost other businesses downtown, an argument also made by the Davenport Downtown Partnership. Buettner told the council the Ingenus proposal has a greater opportunity for expansion and would invite retail development to northwest Davenport.

Although Restoration St. Louis has another downtown apartment development planned to begin this summer at East 5th Street and Pershing Avenue, Gill, who said he cares passionately about Davenport, wondered whether his company’s development work in Davenport might be coming to an end.

“We have lots of cities calling us,” he said. “There are plenty of opportunities in other places.”

He did say Restoration St. Louis would always have a presence in Davenport with the Hotel Blackhawk, Forrest Block and Renwick Building apartments.

Amy Gill said she is starting a Facebook page called Downtown Davenport Defense to show the investment made in the downtown and how a casino would benefit it. The company isn’t giving up on the casino, she said.

The swerve by the council toward the Ingenus project prompted Aldermen Nathan Brown, 1st Ward, and Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, to ask for a special meeting so the council can move its negotiating committee to begin talks with Ingenus on a development agreement. That special meeting will be Wednesday.

Ingenus president Ken Mimmack said he was aware of recent events with the council and was awaiting official notification.

“We are very happy to hear that news,” Mimmack said. “We are excited to help them in their due diligence as best that we can.”

Buettner also told the council that operating fees and developer fees are areas that should be open for negotiation, saying they “seem a bit excessive.”

A third proposal was eliminated Wednesday. Atrium Holding proposed putting a casino floor into the Radisson Quad-City Plaza on East 2nd Street. Atrium officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The city would like to place a license application on the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission’s agenda for its March 7 meeting. That deadline is Feb. 21. Without a special City Council meeting, aldermen wouldn’t have the chance to have city staff move forward with negotiations with either developer until after the council’s Feb. 13 meeting, leaving little time before the Feb. 21 agenda deadline.

Riverboat Development Authority president Mary Ellen Chamberlin said her organization’s license renewal already is on that agenda and the city could piggy-back with that, so she wondered if the city is hurrying.

The RDA has tentatively scheduled a meeting Wednesday to hear a presentation from Buettner. Several members of the RDA have met in small groups with Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin and Buettner in recent days.

The RDA has permission to speak with the city until today. Chamberlin has said no extension has been granted. The Isle expressed concerns that members of the RDA have been talking to other gaming companies about the Davenport license.

The Isle hasn’t said it denied an extension. Company spokeswoman Jill Alexander said the Isle is evaluating the situation daily.

Chamberlin said she wasn’t concerning herself with the situation, leaving that to RDA attorney Bob H. Gallagher. Gallagher didn’t return a call for comment Thursday.

(19) comments

jehr

This doesn't seem like a smart idea. By developing on the outskirts of the city, you encourage competition that's going to take away from the city center. How many cities have historic downtowns that are now eye-sores for which the city has no solution? There's been considerable investment in reviving the historic portion of Davenport. Encouraging initiative to expedite it's demise seems foolish, and will end up with the city center looking like Detroit in 30 years. This is a very short-sighted strategy.

Iowadude

Better yet, who the heck are these elected officials to gamble with OUR money. Nothing should be done unless we, the PUBLIC, have a chance to vote on what WE want. Who's with me?

Steamer

The downtown casino is great for the owners of there old buildings who would make a ton on the deal mean while there are almost 150 jobs that would lostfrom current businesses that would close! If they built on interstate no one will lose a job & there would be thousands of people driving by it per day! If you owned a casino would you want other attractions next door like a downtown area?

UrbanCenter

I think the City Square project has been shady from the start. Read the QCT article “Hotel Blackhawk, casino developer talk sites, Sept. 09, 2011.” While the City was still in a development agreement with Steve Edelson RSL contacted him about co-developing what is now the City Square project. When Edelson was dismissive of the idea RSL then “warned Edelson that if a casino went into the RiverCenter South, he could file a lawsuit against MSEG and the city.” And now the threat is not undertaking any new developments in Davenport. This development group seems to like to threaten when they don’t get their way.

ScottV

Kurt,
Fact Check!
The RSL proposal is to build the new casino between 2nd and 3rd streets and Brady and Main streets.
Please make the correction in the article text.

fabulous7

First off this is a huge gamble and in my opinion, and even a bigger mistake for our fine city to even take into consideration. We have way too many un-finished projects, and proposed projects in our communities that need to be finished first. But like usuall our fine planners and developers and non- educated so-called business professionals that run our corrupt city will get away with doing what they want as they always do, and always will. So whay not take into consideration the downtown area for the Casino? Seems to be the developement site that has most of the focus lately. When they cut up the 46 million dollar big pile of rusty steel sitting on the river front, pull the liscense out of the picture frame, maybe they can save us taxpayers about 20 bucks and use it to make bathroom partitions . Or they could sell it and make some more rusty metal sculptours to place randomly around town. Or sell the entire boat for cement to build more expensive planters to put in the middle of the road so no-one can see who is turning in front of you. Wait... i got it...melt the boat down, build another bridge of some sort that will cross a street to no-where, or connect two pieces of land that no-one cares to cross anyway ...or connect the worthless multicolored bridge we have now, to the new Casino, and light it up and let it rust in 1 year with no maintenence.Either way it goes, the Casino will be bought, run by our corrupt city officials, wether it is downtown or in a worthless cornfield with nothing around it , our streets will still be the worst streets in a 6 state region (with beautiful cement partitions in the middle), our children will suffer because education will continue to be drasticly cut, city workers will be laid-off and our so-smart city officials will all get annual raises, and no more police officers will be hired to police the crime that will evolve from all of this. I praise this city, and america for letting all this happen with-out the concern, or voice of its taxpayers. Cant wait to see the outcome of this, yet another great and well thought out strategy of Davenpits finest.... Great Job !!!

mrod56

I don't see how they can do any of this....years ago, a land based casino was shot down by a vote. It was eventually decided on by the public that a casino was okay if it was on the water....moving. That was to deter the 'bad guys' from easy access....there was also a cap on how much you could gamble...that went out the door fast ! So if a land based casino was voted down by the public..how in the heck are they able to do it now? It was also voted that money would go to the schools..that was the big reason why it was voted for in the first place...to help our kids education....after a few years they then said that it was too much money to all go towards education? So they put it towards the roads and such for repair....NOW..years later...we are getting a land casino...schools have a big shortage of money, and I haven't seen anything about the casinos giving money to fix roads? Something smells fishy to me here and it's not the casino on the water I smell...

Hereandhere

Davenport has always tried to soft sell there support for keeping the casino downtown, even before this latest buying proposition. Now with somebody throwing real numbers around, Davenport risks losing a key investor in downtown. Starting to realize that fast and loose will be a real gamble. The restored Blackhawk is beautiful, thank you for that!

C MICHAELS

Perhaps the Gills should take up the offers being made to them by other cities if the best argument they have for their casino development plan are poorly veiled blackmail-like statements such as 'we don't know what will happen if we don't get our way' and 'we've got other offers.'

The District is a perfect example of a downtown area that saw little to no spinoff business from a casino presence. Gamblers, especially locals who would be the primary partrons of a downtown casino, are there to gamble - period. They aren't there to take in a show, a meal, or spend the night.

But the veiled threats would be enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth if I were on Davenport council. Luckily for the Gills I am not.

RIBROADWAY

The city council should be considering reinvest in Downtown Davenport. I am not aware of any candidate that has the track record that the Gills have with respect to investment and revitalization of Downtown Davenport. Usually thriving cities have a large corporation to steer downtown development and to make the city a desirable place to live, to work and to invest. Davenport doesn't have IBM, or Deere like Des Moines or Dubuque. It is clear that the Gills want to invest big in the Quad Cities. I'm not aware of any other applicant that has the ability or desire to do the things that the Gills have done. Davenport could have lured IBM here were it not for bad decisions years ago, because of those decisions, IBM located in Dubuque. We have a great opportunity to encourage investment in Downtown Davenport. The Gills are the most interested investors that Davenport has, and I have little doubt that profits will be reinvested Downtown. Our council would be missing a opportunity here if they were not to take the Gill's track record into consideration.

georgeandersonxyz

Shouldn't the City of Davenport encourage the development of the downtown area before doing the remote cornfield thing off of an interstate? Restoration St Louis, has made a commitment to Davenport and will continue to be committed to Davenport- Don't forget your partners, the financial commitment they've already made, and what they've already done for Davenport.

C MICHAELS

The council's priority in attaining this casino license is to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers, not worry about upsetting a developer who stomps their feet and talks about taking their toys and going home at the first sign they won't get their way.

happy2bhere

If the numbers are correct, why would we want a casino in the middle of no where for an additional $500,000 annual revenue? Future development would be insignificant - just drive to Waterloo and note there is NONE by the Isle facility which opened years ago, or Rock Island, where no development has appeared adjacent to Jumers Casino. The Gill proposal would greatly enhance the downtown block on which dated buildings rest, while also stimulating interest in future downtown investments , vital to Davenports future.

C MICHAELS

On the contrary, there is substantial development planned for the IL-92/I-280 interchange where Jumer's resides. Again, check your facts before embarrassing yourself.

Pulled Back In

I guess the giant Lost Island Water Park right next to the Casino has been there since the begining of time?

Contemptio

Why would the city pay 46 million for a rusty hulk of a boat, just to scrap it and build a land based casino?

1of3

The City is not buying the boat itself, it is basically the license that they are buying.

GEM

This is Davenport's biggest chance to finally invigorate the downtown area. Let's not blow it.
Look at all the business Jumer's has drawn out in that cornfield by the interstate: none.

C MICHAELS

Jumer's leads the QC casino market now 'out in that cornfield.' Perhaps you should do a little research before shooting off your keyboard.

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