Land Purchase Paves Way for Rock Gaming’s $600M Cleveland Casino

Rock's deal with Forest City involves 16 acres of land downtown in the city's entertainment district including a parcel adjacent to Tower City Center--where Forest City owns two million square feet of commercial space--as well as a segment of the Riverview parking lot.

August 19, 2010
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user waffler

Rock Gaming L.L.C., which recently announced a non-binding joint venture agreement with Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. to develop a casino in Cleveland, Ohio, entered into an agreement with Forest City Enterprises Inc. to acquire land and air rights for the $600 million project.

Rock’s deal with Forest City involves 16 acres of land downtown in the city’s entertainment district including a parcel adjacent to Tower City Center–where Forest City owns two million square feet of commercial space–as well as a segment of the Riverview parking lot. “We’ve wanted to find an opportunity to develop this property for some time,” Jeff Linton, Forest City’s Vice President of Corporate Communication, told CPE. “Tower City was originally conceived for any number of development possibilities; it was always intended that there would be potential for development; it was designed that way.”

While the agreement has just been put in place, Rock’s plan to acquire the land and air rights was hatched last year for a state constitutional amendment that would open the door for the development of four new casinos in Ohio; the amendment passed in November 2009. “Rock Gaming had secured the option with us to pursue building on our land, and we gave them the right to specify our land in the constitutional amendment,” Linton said. “We welcomed the interests of Rock Gaming for securing our site for a potential casino.”

Financial terms of the land acquisition agreement have not been disclosed. If all goes as planned, the transaction will close in Forest City’s fiscal 2010 fourth quarter. The casino development may kick off with a Phase 1 casino, as Rock has also just entered into an agreement in principle to lease space at Forest City’s Higbee Building at Tower City.