DANVILLE – Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
That’s the clock now ticking away after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the gambling expansion bill on Friday that includes a casino license for Danville.
Local officials now have 120 days to choose a site and developer, agree on a temporary location if one is to occur and complete other needed action, such as zoning changes, and apply to the state gaming board. The Illinois Gaming Board then conducts background checks and goes over requirements in approving a casino license application.
Mayor Rickey Williams Jr., Vermilion Advantage President and CEO Vicki Haugen and Vermilion Development’s President and CEO Dave Cocagne will give a presentation at Tuesday night’s Danville City Council meeting on the process.
Vermilion Development Corp., as it was previously called, was an affiliate of Mervis Industries. It has bought land for companies, built facilities and then leased them back to companies, allowing companies to have more flexibility with their assets. One project it worked on locally was Carle on Fairchild Street.
Williams said in what normally could take up to a year in choosing the site and developer and preparing for everything, now they have to do in about half or a third of that time.
The process has been sped up due to competition looming from across the state borders, such as in Indiana and Wisconsin, with the new Illinois casino sites.
Williams already has been meeting individually with aldermen to discuss what’s being looked at for sites and also the various requirements and how the city will be moving forward.
The city will send out a Solicitation of Interest (SOI) to developers, which basically is a request for proposals. The SOI lays out the criteria being asked of developers and requests their development proposals. A local steering committee will then weigh and review those proposals after a three-week return time.
Williams said in addition to working with Haugen and Cocagne on this, he’s also received assistance from the Illinois Municipal League in going through the expanded gambling bill.
There have been about a half dozen developers who’ve recently contacted the city and Vermilion Advantage with interest in building a casino here. Shovel-ready sites near Interstate 74 are being looked at, with 20-40 acres needed.
“The idea is to create an entertainment venue,” Haugen said.
They want to create a destination for people to go to, she said.
Haugen said having a small retail area, outdoor venue and other development with the casino is not to compete with, but complement what’s already here. The additional development also should appeal to those who don’t gamble.
She said they want to tie into the tourism and also promote those coming to the casino to visit the Fischer Theatre, museums, David S. Palmer Arena and other sites.
A casino here is expected to bring in around $6 million in annual revenue and up to 400 construction jobs to build the casino and possibly 700 to 800 permanent jobs to operate it.
In other business at Tuesday’s city council meeting, aldermen are expected to consider:
• Amending Chapter 96 of city code pertaining to intoxicating liquor to include “For any license issued under this chapter that allows for video gaming on the licensed premises, the revenue the license holder may generate from video gaming shall not exceed 49 percent of the license holder’s total gross revenue.”
• Approving an agreement with the Illinois Housing Development Authority for funding the demolition of targeted properties through the abandoned property program.
Danville Senior Planner Tyson Terhune said this is the fourth round of funding.
“It keeps going down each year,” he said of the city’s $33,400 funding which should see about three to four houses demolished in the East Main Street corridor area including on Wisconsin, Illinois and East Main streets.
Williams said this is continuing to “get everything cleaned up along Main Street that we own.”
• Approving an agreement for Azavar Government Solutions to conduct a Comcast franchise fee revenue and contract compliance reviews on a contingency-payment model.
The Danville City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Robert E. Jones Municipal Building, 17 W. Main St.