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Possible Cedar Rapids casino location revealed

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

After months of asking investors in a Linn County casino, a possible location has finally been announced. If voters say "yes" next month to allow gambling, investors want to build a casino near downtown.

They're looking at city owned plots of land on the west side of the Cedar River. Right now, they say about six to ten acres of land would be enough for what they want to build. They're considering land both north and south of I-380. Backers said they do not expect the acquire all the property they are considering.

They're looking at city-owned property, saying they'll build an elevated building on flood damaged land.

"We intend to make this the nicest, downtown, urban, upscale place that it can be to compliment all of the other things that are going on in Cedar Rapids and in Linn County," said Steve Gray, an investor.

Investors say being close to the city's other attractions is important to them. The proposed area is near downtown and close to the new convention center that's scheduled to open in June.

"It would be a nice compliment to a lot of the great things that the visionaries on the city council have done with the new hotel, convention center, the amphitheater, and could truly help with the revitalization and it would provide great accessibility to all of Linn County," said Gray.

A representative with Ryan Companies, the real estate firm asked to research casino sites, said they looked at a variety of sites along I-380. The firm felt the best location was what it calls the "Riverfront" site downtown.

"We are very excited about the opportunities presented for a casino site on the riverfront," said Marc Gullickson, Ryan Companies. "The city now controls much of this property and there are multiple ways to configure this project. It is highly visible, it is highly accessible."

The Just Say No Casino group has been asking where for months where this casino would be located.  Now that they know, they aren't happy.

"All of this property, or 99% of it, is city owned," said Todd Henderson, Spokesperson for Just Say No Casino. "Which begs the question, is a deal already in place to purchase this land from the city? And we won't know."

The city says for investors to buy the land they want they'll have to go through the procedures as everyone else.

"Just as we've sold off other properties that we've acquired since the flood, we have a special process we go through so it's fair to all so they would have to compete with anybody else that's interested in that property," said Monica Vernon, Cedar Rapids City Council.

The special election date is set for March 5th. Early voting is already underway.

The final decision is up to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

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