Waterloo, Iowa, City Council Approves Isle of Capri Hotel-Casino

WATERLOO -- The word "future" typed on the proposed Isle of Capri hotel and casino site plan gave some city leaders pause.

But Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously Monday to the proposed development near the Lost Island Adventurepark after including a provision that the area set aside for a future hotel addition would not include convention facilities.

"Any future convention facility would have to come back to this board or this body before it is approved," said Councilman Buck Clark, who raised the issue during a public hearing on the $120 million development's site plan approval.

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. is expecting to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the casino on a manmade water basin and its 200-room motel directly west of Highway 218, just south of the Highway 20 interchange.

Ryan Companies US Inc., which is handling the construction project, sought approval for the site plan, which was endorsed by the city's Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission last week. The site plan is required to show the layout of buildings, structures and roads on the property, which is already properly zoned for the development.

There was no public opposition during a hearing on the matter, but Clark was concerned about a box on the north side of the hotel for future expansion, specifically that it could house convention facilities.

Supporters of a downtown casino, which lost the competition for a gaming license to IOC, feared convention activities at the casino would hurt the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center and harm downtown activities.

Ryan president Marc Gullickson said there were currently no plans for convention quarters at the Isle of Capri facility and did not object to the council's added stipulation.

The project involves digging a lake or basin for the 35,000-square-foot moored barge casino floor, meeting the state law requirement that gaming tables and slot machines be located over water. The boat will be designed to represent a late 1800s riverboat, incorporating paddle wheels, a pilot house and smokestacks, but it will not cruise.

The casino floor will be connected to the hotel and pavilion, which will house a 200-seat Calypso's buffet, a 50-seat Tradewinds food court, a 75-seat Farraday's fine dining restaurant with a 20-seat lounge and a place to sell Iowa products.

And the entire facility will have a bright, tropical theme, including palm trees, similar to the Isle's other casino properties.

Traffic had been a key concern during the zoning commission's review of the project. The casino has just one planned access road from Shaulis Road, and city engineers are concerned about congestion at the Shaulis intersections with Hess Road and Highway 218.

Community Planning and Development Director Don Temeyer said the city is still reviewing traffic options with Ryan.

"We're still working with traffic and engineering to address the traffic issues down on Dysart Road and 218," Temeyer said.

Mayor Tim Hurley said progress has been made on the traffic issues, but more meetings are scheduled.

(c) 2005 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa