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Neighborhood Growing With or Without Casino

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- With the future of the Cedar Crossings Casino in flux after two reports stating the proposed project would cannibalize money from other existing casinos, there could be uncertainty for the new supporting businesses popping up in nearby Kingston Village.

But business owners said on Wednesday, that side of town has been through high water before, and if it happens again, they'll stand their ground.

At least that is how Popoli general manager Brandon Godwin feels. Construction at his restaurant is moving ahead, whether or not the casino gets its license.

"This area of Kingston Village is really growing fast, and, you know, all of downtown Cedar Rapids, including the NewBo district is growing fast, so I think there's just so much opportunity down here, with or without the casino," Godwin said.

Just upstairs from Popoli, building owner and nearby condominium developer Gary Rozek said he has a hard time imagining that the proposed casino would take money away from existing casinos, but that not building it could cost Cedar Rapids.

"It was overwhelming vote, the city leaders are way behind it, there's been a lot of work done in public/private partnerships, and a lot of local investors. So I think it would be devastating to the community," Rozek said.

He decided to locate here even before the casino was announced, so his business would be fine without the project, "however, we know that the casino would be a game changer for development in Cedar Rapids," he said.

Even if those two reports meant that the casino didn't get its license, Godwin said, the open lot is still prime land worth developing.

"There's plenty of space for growth and new businesses in the area," Godwin said.

And if that doesn't happen with a casino? 

"I think Kingston Village will still develop, it will develop more slowly," Rozek said.

The reports aren't a deal breaker for the proposed casino, they are just a couple of factors state officials are considering before approving the license. The Racing and Gaming Commission is still doing a site visit in a few weeks before it makes a final decision.
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