KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) — The future for a former casino barge remains uncertain as officials in southeastern Iowa talk of turning it into an event center, a boutique bed and breakfast or a floating mall with a restaurant.
A seven-member commission in Keokuk meets twice a month to discuss plans for the barge, the Quad-City Times reported .
City Administrator Cole O’Donnell said the barge could draw residents and visitors to the city’s riverfront.
“There are a lot of great ideas, and there’s a goal to get something up and going as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s just a matter of being able to get a hold of somebody who’s interested and has the resources to do what’s necessary.”
Newt Marine Service transported the barge last year from Davenport to Keokuk for about $200,000. The city only paid $1 for the barge itself, O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said a developer wouldn’t have to pay for the property itself, but would have to be able to repair and operate it. Water and power also need to be restored before commercial development can begin, he said.
The barge previously belonged to the Rhythm City Casino. A crew recently cleaned up garbage and debris that fell during barge’s three-day trip downriver.
“Rhythm City left a lot of stuff on the barge,” O’Donnell said. “We have to decide what to do with the supplies and equipment in there.”
Keokuk Mayor Tom Richardson said the gambling barge is beautiful and intact, despite a recent storm that damaged some awnings.
“It wasn’t my decision, but we’re going to make the best of it,” he said of acquiring the landmark. “We need more riverfront development, and this is 30,000 square feet of riverfront we didn’t have before.”
Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com