DANVILLE – Seven potential operators have expressed interest in operating a casino here.
Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. updated the Danville City Council Tuesday night, saying the steering committee received initial interest feedback from seven entities.
Williams said they sent out a request for proposals, which the committee is calling a Solicitation of Interest, to about 50 corporations throughout the country. Their responses, including full plans and applications, to the city through the SOI are due July 31.
The steering committee next meets Thursday.
“We’ve had feedback from a number of groups, and based on that believe there’s significant interest in the Danville casino license. We will know an exact number once we receive responses to the solicitation of interest on July 31,” stated Vermilion Development’s Dave Cocagne through an email.
The steering committee has selected a 42-acre site in the Southgate Industrial Park for where the casino should go. The site is south of Interstate 74 at the Lynch Road exit and is owned by Lou Mervis heirs.
Williams said after the applications from interested operators are received, the steering committee members will individually review the proposals and will score and rank them for a face-to-face talk. Then the committee will make a recommendation of a casino operating partner to the city council by Aug. 14.
Williams said the casino site would only change if an entity submitted an alternative site plan and how it'd accomplish putting the casino there.
“It’s a tight timeline to get this in place,” said fellow steering committee member and Ward 5 Alderman Mike Puhr, adding that other land acquisition could be tough for the acreage of land needed.
Williams said unless the entity with property on the north side of Interstate 74 at Lynch Road is operating under a name he’s not familiar with, it didn’t indicate interest.
Williams said he believes it’s about 103 days until the casino application has to be submitted, by Oct. 28, to the Illinois Gaming Board. The application fee is a nonrefundable $250,000.
Prior to Williams’ casino update, council members heard from resident Vince Koers who favors the casino locating downtown. He also questioned the transparency of Williams and local officials with the casino process.
Koers said the Southgate location is landlocked and offers limited land for other development because it backs up to the Indiana state line.
Williams said he believes the city has been transparent. He said acquiring land for a casino needs to move fast on the state timeline. The city has been working on another large project over the last eight months or more that needs 66 parcels for 17 acres. All the property is not yet assembled even for that in that amount of time.
Puhr said the steering committee will look at all potential operator ideas as offered.
In other business, council members heard from Williams that the OurDanville phone app and website link for reporting city problems to the city is being temporarily suspended due to notification failures and other problems, such as the city not receiving support from the company.
“That program is not functioning properly,” he said.
The city government mobile app, called OurDanville, went live to the public in July 2016 and allowed residents to see the status of property maintenance complaints and receive answers for garbage collection and other city services in a new way. The cost to the city had been estimated at about $9,100 annually for a Public Stuff software subscription fee.
Residents could report property code violations such as tall grass and inoperable vehicles, pot holes and other issues. Then residents could track and receive updates on the case.
Williams said residents can call the appropriate city department for any issues, such as code enforcement inspectors.
He said they are trying to possibly come up with a solution in house to better address issues.