BrownIndian Posted April 7, 2010 Report Share Posted April 7, 2010 Cleveland's casino will be a $600 million investment. That's what casino developer Dan Gilbert's representative told the crowd of more than 100 at a public dialogue on casino design, held at Cleveland's City Club Friday evening. Len Komoroski, representing Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC, said that Gilbert and his partners want to make sure "this is a first class destination and entity. We are committed to investing more than $600 million here in the Cleveland casino project." View full sizeKomoroski was one of four panelists at the discussion organized by a group of young professionals calling itself the Cleveland Coalition. The other speakers were Christopher Diehl, a professor at the Kent State Urban Design Collaborative; Tom Chema, president of Hiram College and former chief executive of the Gateway Economic Development Corp., and David M. Schwarz of Washington, D.C., a well-known architect who designed the expansion of Severance Hall in Cleveland in the late 1990s. Schwarz is currently working on a project for Harrah's Entertainment Inc. in Las Vegas. Schwarz, who flew into Cleveland for this event and also spent part of the day meeting with Kent design students, shared his puzzlement of the four sites selected as possible casino locations in Cleveland. The four were part of the Issue 3 measure that voters passed in November. They include the east bank of the Cuyahoga River behind Tower City Center; a site on the W. 3rd St. Peninsula underneath the Lorain-Carnegie bridge, the Scranton Road Peninsula and the Higbee building. Komoroski left before the other panelists spoke, to head to Quicken Loans arena for the potentially Guinness world-record-breaking "Snuggie" event. Though Schwarz said he wasn't taking any position on casino locations in Cleveland, he later dismissed two sites out of hand -- the peninsula locations -- as being inconsistent with the pledge he'd been told Gilbert made, that the casino be a place that encourages the flow of traffic in and out of it. "I don't think you'll have a white elephant, people love to game and it will be used wherever you put it," Schwarz said. "But you may have a great risk of having something that is nothing for downtown, which is a real lost opportunity. "I'm quite surprised listening to the goals by this group and by the representatives of the developer that the sites are what they are. Two clearly do nothing for downtown. "The 600 million number wouldn't get you close because the infrastructure to get you to those sites would be so expensive it wouldn't happen. You don't have four sites that would impact downtown. How you site this thing is absolutely critical to what you get. Don't confuse yourselves about this." Gilbert has said publicly that the measure of success for the casino will not just be how well it does, but how it contributes to the well-being of downtown. Most casinos -- in Las Vegas and other cities -- have been built as bunkers that discourage gamblers from leaving the building. And as Komoroski reiterated, the proposed casinos would not be a "bunker," and he mentioned again the importance of "how it's integrated into the downtown fabric." Diehl mentioned that his students have been coming up with creative ideas for how a casino might look, and mentioned the views of the river that several would have. Schwarz said bluntly that no casino owners wanted patrons to look at views from the casino. He mentioned casinos built next to the beach in Biloxi, Miss., and that not a single one has a back door to allow patrons to get to the beach. Of all the casino locations he's studied, Biloxi is the place, Schwarz said, where gaming has had the least positive impact on the city. There, the Beau Rivage casino, for example, is separated by the city by a major 12-lane roadway In most places like that, "Casino life and city life have nothing to with each other. Municipalities have at best viewed gaming as a necessary evil, and operators have viewed city dwellers as an unfortunate occurrence. There's a mutual distrust," he said. "Most casinos are on edges, on tracks, on the other side of the river, and the isolation makes them not central to urban life. " Of the four locations, Schwarz said the one on the Cuyahoga River's east bank behind Tower City and the Higbee's were the only two that would serve the purpose of integrating with city life; he added that he didn't know much about the Higbee's building. That has mainly been mentioned as the site of a temporary casino, should there be one. During a question and answer session, Gilbert's Rock Ventures was represented by former U.S. Rep. Dennis Eckart. One of the questions was whether the casino design would fall under Cleveland's building and zoning restrictions and guidelines, even though it would be in a special designated district. Eckart said that it would. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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