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The City Council on Tuesday night received an update on the Caesars Virginia casino project, which is awaiting bid proposals for a general contractor.
Requests for proposals were issued last week, and bids are due in early January, said Robert Livingston, senior vice president of development for Caesars Entertainment.
“Our goal is to select a contractor by the end of January,” Livingston said. “We will be looking for a contractor with the capacity to mobilize quickly to get this project underway in the spring.”
Livingston said representatives from national and regional construction firms were in Danville last week to meet with the Caesars design and construction team and to walk the site.
“We are very excited to be at that step of the game,” Livingston said. “We expect the new construction to begin with the hotel tower. It’s on the firmest ground. There is not a lot of work that has to be done at that location.”
A groundbreaking is planned, but the date will depend on the mobilization of the general contractor and the weather.
Currently, the casino site at the former Dan River Mills industrial complex in the Schoolfield area is undergoing abatement and demolition.
“There is a lot of infrastructure still there,” Livingston said. “The team has been hard at work to take down what is remaining for the general contractor.”
Livingston said the company has received questions about the finishing plant that remains standing. Those questions, he said, include, “When is that building going to come down?” “How is it going to come down?”
“Our team is still assessing the safest and most economical method for removing that structure,” he said. “Whichever path we take, we expect the process to begin sometime in the March/April time frame. It will be a lengthy process. After the building comes down, it will take time to clear or repurpose that debris. As a result, the process is likely to stretch into the summer.”
Livingston said the demolition process will not slow down the project. “Construction will begin in other areas of the site, so debris removal and material crushing will take place simultaneously with the new construction,” he said.
Livingston talked about opportunities for local and minority-owned businesses and contractors to be involved in the project.
“We have made important commitments to the community,” he said. “We intend to keep those commitments. We are asking each general contractor bidding on this work to explain to us their track records in working with minority contractors.”
Also, the general contractor will be expected to hold outreach and informational sessions with interested suppliers and contractors, he said.
“Those will be well advertised,” Livingston said. “We don’t want anyone to not know how they can get involved.”
Livingston said Caesars continues to build a list of companies that have already reached out.
“As many local suppliers and contractors will be used as possible,” Livingston said.
Caesars, he said, will need to go outside the area for parts of the work, especially specialized aspects typically found in bigger markets.
“The Danville construction market is just not big enough on its own to cover everything needed for this project,” he said. “We are excited about putting as many local folks to work on this project as humanly possible and for many years to come.
In September, Caesars Entertainment shared official renderings for Caesars Virginia, its $500 million resort, which is expected to open in 2023 and will include 500 hotel rooms, a state-of-the-art casino floor, Caesars Sportsbook, World Series of Poker Room, new restaurant and entertainment offerings, and 40,000 square feet of meeting and convention space with an entertainment venue that can accommodate up to 2,500 guests.