Posted on: August 2, 2022, 12:54 p.m.
Last update: August 2, 2022, 4:45 a.m.
Caesars Virginia is moving forward with its construction site in Danville on the grounds of what was once the Dan River Mills textile site.
Caesars Entertainment has partnered with the city of Virginia to build a half-billion dollar casino on the 85-acre property. Once the economic heart of Danville, the historic Schoolfield District textile mill campus has been vacant since 2006, although its glory days ended several years earlier.
Before it can begin construction on its new complex, Caesars is demolishing the many vacant and decaying buildings that were once part of the largest textile factory in the South. Although the casino operator said the warehouses and brick factories were beyond repair, local officials admit the destruction of the structures is bittersweet for many longtime residents.
I’m sure it was a bit heartbreaking to see that happen because it’s a piece of history. Danville City Manager Ken Larking said ABC13 News this week. “But that being said, there is a new story to be done on this site.”
Caesars Virginia’s $500 million plan includes a 500-room hotel and casino with 1,400 slot machines and table game positions. A Caesars Sportsbook will offer on-site sports betting.
The resort will also include 40,000 square feet of event space, a spa, pool, fitness center, multiple restaurants and bars, and a World Series of Poker room with 25 tables.
Preservation of history
Caesars Virginia demolishes most of the condemned buildings where many Danville workers made their living to support their families. But a major focal point of the closed textile factory – the “Three Sisters” chimneys – will remain.
Caesars says brick chimney funnels will continue to dominate the property. The casino operator explains that the 18-story hotel will be lower than the piles.
Mark Schlang, director of design and construction at Caesars Virginia, said the “Three Sisters” would be a focal point and “iconic element” of the destination.
Some local officials say this is not enough. During the design phase last year, several residents asked Caesars if it might consider incorporating some sort of museum honoring the significance of the former textile mill. Caesars representatives at the time said public input would be considered in the final design of the casino.
But the station’s current plan does not include such an attraction where textile artifacts could be displayed. Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones thinks locals will still love the finished product.
“Over the past two years, myself, City Council and staff have taken great care to develop plans, alongside residents and Caesars Entertainment, to create a resort that will have a positive impact on the community,” said Jones. “We are confident that Caesars Virginia will honor the former school site of Dan River Mills and become a pillar of pride for Danville and its residents.”
Site preparation is almost complete
Caesars Danville says the 85-acre site will be ready for construction in the coming weeks. But with demolition and excavation work proceeding on schedule, supply chain issues and labor shortages prompted Caesars to announce in May that it was postponing its scheduled to open in 2023 for introduction in Virginia.
Caesars Virginia is now expected to welcome guests from 2024. The economic benefits are immediate, however, as the casino has generated 900 construction jobs. The permanent station is expected to employ approximately 1,300 people.