Danville city and Caesars Entertainment officials on Thursday signed the development agreement for a resort casino at the former Dan River Mills industrial complex in Schoolfield.
The agreement is a legally binding document that outlines what the resort casino — branded as Caesars Virginia — is promising to deliver to Danville should the casino gaming referendum pass on Nov. 3. The signing took place during a ceremony held at Averett University’s Pritchett Auditorium.
“This is a big step,” Mayor Alonzo Jones said at the ceremony.
“This agreement assures that this project will be of the highest quality, producing good-paying jobs, and bringing much-needed revenue to the city.”
Jones added, “It’s now up to the citizens to decide whether this development is right for the community. The city manager and his team have worked very hard to get it to this point. Please vote.”
Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Inc., said the signing of the development deal marks a significant step forward for Danville and Caesars Entertainment. “Caesars Virginia will be a world-class resort that will create new jobs and revenue for the city, and we are confident that Danville will show its enthusiasm for the casino referendum vote on Nov. 3 by voting ‘yes,’” Reeg said.
Del. Danny Marshall, who in December 2018 introduced the concept of a casino development to the city council and school board and then worked to shape the legislation approved this year by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, called on citizens to do some homework ahead of the referendum.
“I say with economic development that it is great to have new jobs, but it is a real win-win when you have a company such as Caesars,” Marshall said. “They are a great company. They treat their employees great.”
Neal Morris, chairman of the Industrial Development Authority, said the resort casino will breathe new life into the Schoolfield complex. “We have had many meetings about what we could do with that property and discussed who could go there and bring the biggest benefit not only for Danville but the area,” Morris said.
“We are here today to sign a document that, if on Nov. 3 voters approve of what we are trying to do here, will have a tremendous impact. It will not only create jobs but will bring tourism that is sorely needed.”
City Manager Ken Larking outlined the steps that culminated with today’s signing. “From the beginning, we have taken seriously our responsibility to make sure that — should the citizens of Danville vote in favor of casino gaming — it would be implemented in the best possible way,” Larking said. The City Council and Industrial Development Authority on Tuesday voted to approve the development agreement with Caesars Virginia as the city’s casino gaming operator.
“I want to thank all members of both bodies for their careful examination of the terms and the guidance they provided to us as we worked through the negotiations,” Larking said at the ceremony.
“I also want to thank David Rittvo from Caesars Entertainment and their local attorneys, Steven Gould and Hunter Byrnes, for the professional way they handled this process.”
The highlights of this development agreement include promises to do the following:
- Construct a Caesars-branded resort casino with a minimum of $400 million in capital investment to transform the Schoolfield site into a destination for residents and visitors alike.
- Include multiple restaurants and bars, a hotel with at least 300 four-star guest rooms, a 35,000-square-foot conference center, a 2,500-seat live-entertainment venue, a pool and a spa.
- Employ 1,300 full-time equivalent employees, earning an hourly wage of at least $15 per hour.
- Generate 900 construction jobs during the construction period.
- Within 30 days of the referendum, pay $15 million to the city.
- Guarantee a minimum of $5 million in gaming tax revenue each year for every full year Caesars is in operation.
- Provide an annual supplemental payment directly to the city based on a percentage of net gaming revenue. Based on estimates provided by Caesars and reviewed by Convergence Strategy Group, Larking says it is expected that, by year three of operation, this project will produce $22 million in state-collected gaming tax revenue remitted to the City of Danville $12 million in supplemental payments to the City of Danville, and $4.2 million in meals, sales, hotel/motel and property taxes.
For more information, visit www.caesarsfordanville.com. An advisory committee has been formed to receive and distill feedback from the community on how to invest possible new revenues in ways that will have the most significant long-term impact in the community.
Also, PFM Group Consulting has been hired to guide a citizen-driven process to decide how to invest new revenues, should the casino come to fruition.