onstruction of a Danville casino wouldn’t begin until early 2021, according to a project timeline included in documents submitted to the city’s zoning and planning commission. And a temporary casino — which state law allows to operate until the permanent one is finished — wouldn’t be operational until early 2022, according to that timeline.
This week, aldermen and the zoning and planning commission will hear the first details of plans to create a 42-acre gambling district with the casino at its heart on a site bordered by the state line and the Lynch Road exit of Interstate 74 on the outskirts of southeast Danville, where several hotels already exist.
The city council is expected to hear Tuesday night from the proposed casino operator recommended by a steering committee that reviewed three proposals, then vote on approving that applicant. It will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Robert E. Jones Municipal building, 17 W. Main St., Danville.
Aldermen were originally set to vote Sept. 17, but Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. announced a two-week delay just before that meeting, as reported by The News-Gazette. At the time, he said the city was still awaiting a few financial documents as well as negotiating community benefits with the top two applicants.
At 5:15 p.m. Thursday, the city’s planning and zoning commission will vote on all the zoning changes necessary to transform the 42-acre site into a gambling district. The land is owned by Vermilion Development Inc., which lists its address as 3295 E. Main St., Danville — the same as Mervis Industries’ corporate office.
According to the documents submitted to the zoning commission, the project would unfold in three phases over more than three years, beginning in February 2021 with construction of a 120,000-square-foot casino complex. The proposed timeline expects a certificate of occupancy for a temporary casino to be issued in February 2022 and one for a permanent operation to be issued in August 2023.
A footnote states that “actual timeline will vary based on the timing of the Illinois Gaming Board’s award of the gaming license and other factors.”
The chosen operator must submit its application for the license — including a $250,000 nonrefundable fee — to the state gaming board by Oct. 28, but the timeline doesn’t expect it to be approved until Oct. 28, 2020.
In June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation expanding gambling in the state, including the creation of six new casino licenses, one in Danville. According to the American Gaming Association, $2.95 billion was generated for the state of Illinois through casinos.
For Danville alone, city officials have estimated within five years, $7 million could be generated. More than 16,000 people were employed throughout the 10 casinos in the state alone. City officials said a casino in Danville is estimated to bring roughly 600 new jobs to the city.
Once a permanent Danville casino is operational, phase two of the construction is slated to begin. That phase, expected to start in February 2023, involves construction of a 250,000-square-foot hotel and spa immediately south of the casino. It would overlook a pond, according to a concept drawing submitted to the zoning commission. A footnote states that the final plan will change with input from the casino operator.
Phase three construction, slated to begin sometime after the hotel opens in August 2024, includes plans for a conference and banquet center next to the hotel, food-and-beverage retailers, outlets or other stores, and an entertainment venue.