Newly chosen Danville casino developer: 'We want the "wow" effect'

Newly chosen Danville casino developer: 'We want the "wow" effect'

A newly formed group of individuals with a long history in the gaming industry hopes to build a Las Vegas-style casino resort that attracts people all along the Interstate 74 corridor to the outskirts of Danville for more than affiliate program

For the first time, the public heard details Tuesday of the winning development group’s plans to make Danville’s casino dreams finally come true.

At a Danville City Council meeting Tuesday night, Haven Gaming LLC officials described their development as a family-oriented destination, not just a casino — with a three-phase, multiyear build-out resulting in a hotel, full-service spa, multiple restaurants, pool and lazy river, convention center, live entertainment venue, 4,000 parking spaces and more.

“When you drive by, we want the ‘Wow’ effect,” said Chicago attorney Scott Sypolt with the Haven group, which presented an overview of the project to Danville aldermen, who unanimously approved the group Tuesday night as its casino operating partner.

“We’re doing something unlike any other (casino) location in Illinois, unlike any other location in the Midwest,” said Sypolt, who was joined at the meeting by former state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie.Lang said this will put Danville on the map in terms of gaming, but their proposal is more than that; it’s an economic development proposal.

“It will put many people to work. It will add hotels and restaurants, an entertainment center, a conference center; you have to go a long way from Danville to hold a decent-sized conference. Conferences mean revenue. Conferences mean economic development,” said Lang, whose group estimates 400 construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent jobs once the project is finished — hopefully within three years.

Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said this group is offering something fantastic for Danville, announcing that Haven has made various donation commitments to local organizations, in addition to paying the city a 4 percent revenue share.

But they studied the areas carefully, he said, and chose Danville due to this site’s location along I-74, with 2.4 million people living along the interstate corridor — from Bloomington-Normal to Indianapolis.

“Beautifully situated,” Sypolt said of the location, a 42-acre site on Lynch Road adjacent to I-74, bordering the Indiana state line, which the group will buy along with another 30-acre site across Lynch Road for future development to complement their casino complex. “We’re going to make this a tremendous, tremendous destination point.”

In their market assessment, Haven officials said they found the site conveniently located to reach a 19-county area of Illinois and Indiana, according to Bill Bembenek, another Haven Gaming official, who was most recently the CEO of the Pala Casino Spa and Resort in California.

“Convenience and access are keys to business, and casinos are no different,” said Bembenek, who has been through this process several times, opening other casinos in northern Illinois, Indiana and in the West.

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