VIEW OF CAFE.jpg

A rendering of the cafe at the Golden Nugget casino to be built in Danville.

DANVILLE — Demolition has started on an existing building, and site prep and renovation will soon begin on another structure, signaling a major new era in Danville.

Groundbreaking for the $97 million Danville Golden Nugget casino is set for this afternoon on the city’s east side.

City, casino and development officials are scheduled to be on hand.

Jim Wilmot, vice president of gaming for New York-based Wilmorite Management Group, the company that will develop the casino, said demolition of one of the buildings at the site started last week. Site work will begin soon and take a couple of weeks.

Demolished was a 50,000-square-foot building that wasn’t “in the best shape,” Wilmot said.

That area will be used to add parking spaces. The site is located on Eastgate Drive off Lynch Road.

“Then you’ll see more and more people show up as we start to get the site ready for full construction and a March 2023 opening,” Wilmot said.

“We should have 300 total (contract workers) who work on the site and around 300 people who are trained and ready to start” to work in the casino.

The existing 60,000-square-foot building that will be retained is in better condition than the one that was demolished. It also offers a better layout for a casino.

“It’s in better shape with higher ceiling heights, which is better for us for air circulation post-COVID as well as aesthetically with lighting. We will be retrofitting it and making it a better building,” Wilmot said.

He said the structure is in good condition, noting the prefab metal building has strong steel I-beams, steel roofing on a concrete pad and is wide open, which means “it didn’t have any limitations for floor plan, so it gave us the opportunity to lay it out like it’s a new building.”

“Today with material prices, that’s incredible. You can’t get steel anymore. That’s almost impossible to get. It would have added several months” to the construction timeline.

Wilmot said contractors “ran into a little asbestos in one of the glue products on the floor that we’ll abate. It’s all stuff you can expect” on such a project.

The buildings were most recently used for storage and warehousing, and before that as a factory.

The groundbreaking ceremony is set for 2 p.m. and is not open to the general public. Four hours later, at 6 p.m., the Danville City Council will hear an update on the casino project, including the layout and timeline.

The Illinois Gaming Board approved a preliminary finding of suitability for the casino last month — a major step in a project that has taken decades to realize.

Our County Editor

Dave Hinton is editor of The News-Gazette's Our County section and former editor of the Rantoul Press. He can be reached at dhinton@news-gazette.com.

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