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Iowa Q-C casinos rush to land
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Iowa Q-C casinos rush to land

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It’s been a busy construction season in the Quad-Cities, especially for crews assembling the area’s two new land-based casinos.

Both the Rhythm City Casino in Davenport and the Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf will wave goodbye to their riverboat casinos about 25 years after riverboat gambling first arrived in the Quad-Cities.

In total, developers are investing $170 million into the projects, which will create more than 400,000 square feet of new construction in Scott County.

After years of drawing gamblers to the riverfront, the two Iowa Quad-City casinos will see a boost in revenue from offering something they’ve never marketed before, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission officials say.

The Bettendorf and Davenport casinos would be the third and fourth land-based casinos in the Quad-city area. In 2008, Jumer’s Casino & Hotel opened as a land-based casino in Rock Island, and Wild Rose Casino & Resort opened on the west side of Clinton. Also in eastern Iowa is Riverside Casino and Golf Resort south of Iowa City.

Rhythm City Casino

Just weeks following a June 4 groundbreaking, rain stalled work at the site at the Interstates 80 and 74 interchange. But an August dry spell has picked it right back up as evidenced by the skeleton of a hotel now towering over the 40 acres.

"We've watched these buildings come out of the ground," Rhythm City owner Dan Kehl said at the site recently.

Construction of the six-story hotel is on track to be enclosed by Nov. 1, said Steve Leavitt, senior project manager at Baxter Construction LLC. Des Moines-based Baxter Construction is the main contractor for the $110 million project.

A grand hall will connect the hotel with a single-story complex that includes the casino, buffet restaurant and event center. Leavitt hopes the casino part will be enclosed in December.

Infrastructure around the buildings also is taking shape. An extension to Elmore Avenue that was paved in time for the groundbreaking has been widened and street lights and signage have been added. And as of this month, about 80 percent of the casino's parking lot was paved.

At any one time, as many as 200 construction workers have been on site. Leavitt said that number is expected to double in January and February as subcontractors from local drywall, concrete, electric and plumbing shops work on the buildings.

Rhythm City General Manager Mo Hyder said the whole 320,000-square-foot development should wrap up in time for a May 19 opening.

"This will be a significant project both in size and scope," Hyder said.

The Isle of Capri

Crews broke ground on what the company thinks will be the largest casino resort in Iowa on May 13.

The construction will connect and fill in the current courtyard between the resort’s north and south tower hotels, which hold a total of 514 hotel rooms. Following the completion of the project, resort guests also will have access to one common lobby area.

Isle spokeswoman Jill Alexander said crews hope to enclose the facility before winter.

Additionally, the Isle recently finished renovating 251 hotel rooms in the south tower to complement the décor of the north tower, an $8.5 million project.

"We appreciate the hard work put forth by all of the tradespeople who worked on the hotel and those who are now working on the land-based casino," Alexander wrote in an email.

Accompanied by two restaurants and a bar, the single-level, 35,000-square-foot gaming floor will hold the casino’s 975 machines. Its design, influenced by Iowa industries, will incorporate themes of manufacturing, production, machinery and farming.

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Jack Cullen covers health and the outdoors for the Quad-City Times.

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