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Riverside Casino Has a 'Topping Out' Party

Highest Point Erected; September Opening Set

Mary Zielinski

The Gazette

December 15, 2005

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

    RIVERSIDE — Easily the most enthusiastic person at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort’s ‘‘topping out’’ party Wednesday was architect Mohammed Lawal of Minneapolis.

    ‘‘It is amazing to see what has gone up from a little sheet of paper,’’ Lawal said, referring to the initial concept for what now is a $120 million, 340-acre casino and golf resort on at the east edge of Riverside.

    The party marked the erection of the highest point of the facility, the top of the five-floor 200-room hotel.

    It also was a Christmas party for the construction crew that, with invited area city officials, casino board members and officials and press numbered about 200 people.

    Casino CEO Dan Kehl said plans call for the casino to open Sept. 10, 2006, as a birthday present for his father, Robert Kehl. The elder Kehl was in attendance, seated in a wheelchair, the result injuries suffered in May. The golf course is expected to be ready in May 2007.

    Kehl said the topping out came 103 days since the groundbreaking July 20 and 479 days since plans were announced for the project and passage of a gambling referendum in Washington County was sought.

    Tony Baxter, project construction manager, of Frank Baxter Construction, said work has moved faster than anticipated and that the project is ahead of schedule.

    Jerry and Margie’s Catering of Riverside provided a prime rib dinner for all in attendance. Visitors then could tour the hotel’s second floor, where two unfinished rooms were set up to give an idea of what accommodations will be like.

    Casino officials are bidding for the $180 million artificial rain forest that The Environmental Project is planning. Gerry Ambrose of Ambrose Associates, an investor in the casino, was asked what he thought about the rain forest being in Riverside instead of Coralville.

    ‘‘Fine,’’ he replied. ‘‘As long as it stays in the area.’’

Interior designer Larry Rafferty from Yates-Silverman Inc. of Las Vegas explains the materials that will be used in the show lounge of the new Riverside Casino and Golf Resort to Cindy Baxter of Fort Madison during a luncheon celebrating the ’’topping out’’ of the hotel Wednesday in Riverside. The facility is projected to open in September.

Brian Ray photos/The Gazette Work continues on the hotel (left) and casino (right) under construction at the new Riverside Casino and Golf Resort following a luncheon celebrating the ’’topping out’’ of the hotel Wednesday in Riverside. The ’’topping out’’ signifies that the highest point of the facility’s superstructure has been erected. Crews reached the milestone in 103 days. The hotel, casino and events center are projected to open in September.

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