Agency rejects skywalk for Cleveland’s casino

Bridge can move ahead, without federal tax break

5/11/2013
BY THOMAS OTT
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
The Department of the Interior ruled that a skywalk would violate the ‘historic character’ of the Higbee Building in Cleveland, home of the Horseshoe Casino.
The Department of the Interior ruled that a skywalk would violate the ‘historic character’ of the Higbee Building in Cleveland, home of the Horseshoe Casino.

CLEVELAND — A federal agency has rejected plans to build a skywalk connecting the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and the casino’s parking garage.

The ruling would not block construction of the bridge.

But the property owner would have to repay investors, who bought historic-renovation tax credits awarded for construction at the casino’s home, the Higbee Building on Public Square. How much those credits are worth is unclear.

Higbee and the rest of Tower City Center are on the National Register of Historic Places, which is administered by the National Park Service.

Plans show a 170-foot, glass-enclosed walkway above Prospect Avenue and Ontario Street. John Burns, a hearing officer for the federal agency, ruled that the bridge would “negatively impact the historic character” of the buildings.

The decision is final.

Rock Ohio Caesars, the casino’s owner, has indicated it plans to buy the Higbee Building from Forest City Enterprises.

Caesars Entertainment, a minority partner in the joint venture, recently revealed the price would be $79 million.

Moody’s Investors Service reviewed a financing package that would be used to purchase the building. Moody’s said the skywalk would increase business at the casino as well as revenue that has failed to meet the ratings service’s expectations.

Jennifer Kulczycki, spokesman for Dan Gilbert’s Rock Gaming, declined to comment. Rock Gaming is the majority partner in Rock Ohio Caesars.

Forest City spokesman Jeff Linton said Rock Ohio Caesars is exercising an option to purchase the Higbee Building.