Friday, February 23, 2007

My Blackhawk/Casino Dream Plan

I'll just preface this by saying that this is just me dreaming, and NOT AN ACTUAL IOC PLAN OR IDEA. (That I know of)

Here's a little map I made, which you'll need to click on to read any of the labels.
Ok, my basic concept would be Isle of Capri moving its gaming operations to the L-shaped parking lot that currently surrounds the Blackhawk Hotel. This would be potentially easier now that they may not be required to build the casino on a Styrofoam floor or cushion of water or other silliness.

Since Davenport's casino is probably not going to go the golf course resort route of Riverside, I thought it could be an interesting idea to combine an urban location with an indoor waterpark. This would possibly give the kids something to do while Mom and Dad are off gambling away their inheritance. According to its website, the Grand Harbor indoor waterpark in Dubuque is around 25,000 square feet. According to my measurements on the overhead imagery site, the area of the Blackhawk/parking lots block is about 300x300 feet.

The Plan
The first part of this plan would be to renovate the Blackhawk according to the current city plan, which would include 100+ convention hotel rooms, and possibly some residential living space. This hotel, while aimed at convention or business guests, would be operated by IOC. The second component would be the construction of a 10-14 story hotel, similar to the one that was proposed for the riverfront. This hotel had a small footprint to go with its somewhat respectable height. The bottom 2 or 3 floors of this would be the new, land-based casino. North of this would be the 25,000+ square foot indoor waterpark, which I believe our community has a need for with the loss of Wacky Waters and our difficult weather. North of the existing Blackhawk would be a new parking garage, of whatever height was deemed necessary. Because of the existing Blackhawk's height, none of this would block many river views that aren't already blocked.

The area East of Pershing currently occupied by an auto repair shop, musicians union hall, and crappy strip retail could potentially be used for something with the addition of a skywalk over Pershing. The newly redone plaza directly north of the Rivercenter and adjacent to the Federal Building could be enclosed to extend the Rivercenter to 4th street, or left alone. This would be somewhat of a dark canyon though. Also, I think this plan would work well to connect the Crescent Warehouse District with the rest of downtown, which it is currently isolated from.

Problems with my plan
Money!!! Incentives or not, this thing would cost a fortune. Its also a completely unproven idea. I can't think of a place outside of a Vegas or Atlantic City style city where a large land-based casino complex is located in the heart of a downtown district. The parking garage and indoor waterpark buildings could potentially block some of the windows of the North wing of the Blackhawk, eliminating their use as hotel rooms, condos, or apartments. I'm sure commenters will think of thousands more problems with this idea, so I'll stop there.

Obviously this exact project won't happen, but I would really love to see IOC consider something along these lines. It could really turn downtown into a regional draw, solve the RiverCenter's lack of connected hotel rooms, and clear up the entire riverfront for greenspace or other river-friendly uses.


Dave said...

No idea is a bad idea at this point! I like some of the concepts and it would enable us to use an already existing building. Dubuque managed to get it done and for this size of community, an indoor waterpark could be a hit. I'm sure there are some limiting factors, but we need to get brainstorming some ideas and make sure that people in position to make those decisions hear them.

Keep up the creative stream of thought!

Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:
Nice thinking there Young Man. Nothing negative to say about it from here, I'd love to see something like that down there especially if it got done entirely and totally with private monies and not even a smell of public subsidy, lightly hidden or totally hidden. A fully tax-paying business like that would bring in almost as much money as contracted-for traffic cameras.

Anonymous said...

With Wacky Waters now closed any water park would be a great idea!

Shelley said...

This is exactly the same idea suggested by several people who took part in the convoluted meetings prior to the City of
Davenport decision to approve the riverfront plan. I would hope that IOC actually saved the notes that I'm assuming the consultants took-if they could find a pen!(I guess you had to be there to get that snark.) In fact, I think that if you look at the RC Reader archives you may find this plan among several offered as alternatives to the riverfront downtown. I wonder why IOC and the City didn't schedule some "input" meetings now while they are considering their options, rather than presenting a plan and shoving it down the residents' throats again.

pioneer98 said...

I agree they should have input sessions again now that they are starting over. If they took public input sessions seriously, it would go a long ways to quieting the critics (though whatever happens there will always be critics).

Anonymous said...

If you drive 14th Street lock your car doors. Carry a cell phone. Drivers are being stopped by thugs. This happened three times this week.

Anonymous said...

Great concept but needs more parking. The structure you have would be fine for employees and potential residents of the Blackhawk (or Mississippi Lofts) but I would put the parking structure across Pershing and funnel anyone who was going to the RiverCenter or Adler through my Casino...

QuadCityImages said...

The Adler/Rivercenter already have use of the 880-space garage under the MidAmerican building. Maybe employees could park in the garage at Main and River Drive and be shuttled to work.

Anonymous said...

What about all those spaces 'reserved' for the federal building in that lot?

QuadCityImages said...

Maybe my "future expansion" zone across Pershing would be a good spot for a 2nd parking garage? Or just tell the Feds that they can figure out their own parking situation.

Anonymous said...

Gambling needs to be removed from the RiverCenter area. The hotel rooms will NOT be used for conventions, but for gamblers (as was the Blackhawk prior to the fire). Gamblers gamble and as Las Vegas discovered, mom and dad don't bring their kids when they go to spend the inheritance.

The IOC should take over the property where the Ground Transportation Center is now. The City is going to be building its own garage and decentralizing its hubs. The EI Comm College has no problems moving out. Build the hotel on top of the gaming floor. The footprint is huge and would more than meet the expansion requirements of the IOC.

The location is flood proof, within 1000 feet of the river, the parking garage at 2nd & Harrison is designed to have two decks added (and already has some availablity). It could easily be connected with a skywalk keeping patrons dry and warm.

The RiverCenter needs the Blackhawk to be restored. An IOC hotel is not a friend of the RiverCenter. To suggest the RC can't hold its own in the competitive convention business is to ignore the birding convention and the trails symposium. These events brought in more than $4 million in economic activity downtown. We need more of these. Gambling will exist with or without the convention business. A properly diversified local economy requires both gaming and conventions/tourism.

I also like the waterpark idea, I don't know if you will find people willing to invest in it. The waterpark folks decided not to compete for the Blackhawk. Perhaps their model changed.

Good luck to Cons. Demo. You won't see any large project in Davenport ever built again without public incentives. You can't name one that has happened in the last 10 years of any magnitude. There are too many other places offering the incentives for Davenport to be competitive without them, too.

I also question those who wonder about input meetings. You are delusional if you think that you are going to tell the IOC what you want their project to be. I will guess that when there is a plan you will hear about and get a chance then to criticize it. It will be the one (mostly) that you will get stuck with. Just hope that it is better than the last one. That is the best you will get, I am afraid.

QuadCityImages said...

That's the kind of comment I like to see around here. Maybe a bit blunt to some folks, but you laid out your thoughts and reasons in a logical way. I agree with the whole gambling hotel vs convention hotel, which is why my plan had IOC building a new hotel on the site also. I was imagining the new one being for gamblers and or waterpark visitors, with the Blackhawk being the more dignified business-oriented hotel. The two projects wouldn't even necessarily need to be combined.

Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:
Yup, 2:26 has his head screwed on right and articulates well (geeze, after the Bidenism of a week ago mebbe that's a bad word).

Yah, I know that realistically-speaking we-the-people have lost our power to that of commerce and finance but I don't have to like it. Shame on us as a people for rolling over and allowing that.