Caesars Virginia is making progress on its construction site in Danville on the grounds of what was formerly the Dan River Mills textile site.
Caesars Entertainment has partnered with the Virginia city to build a half-billion dollar casino resort on the 85-acre property. Once the economic heartbeat of Danville, the historic Schoolfield district textile mill campus has sat vacant since 2006, though its glory days ended many years earlier.
Before it can begin construction on its new resort, Caesars is tearing down the numerous vacant and deteriorating buildings that were once part of the largest textile mill in the South. Though the casino operator said the warehouses and brick mills were damaged beyond repair, local officials concede that tearing the structures down is bittersweet for many longtime locals.
I am sure that was a little bit heartbreaking to see that happen because it’s a piece of history,” Danville City Manager Ken Larking told ABC13 News this week. “But with that being said, there is new history to be made on that site.”
The $500 million Caesars Virginia plan includes a 500-room hotel and casino floor with 1,400 slot machines and table game positions. A Caesars Sportsbook will provide on-site sports betting.
The resort is also to include 40,000 square feet of event space, a spa, pool, and fitness center, numerous restaurants and bars, and a World Series of Poker Room with 25 tables.
Caesars Virginia is tearing down most of the condemned buildings where many Danville laborers earned their livings to provide for their families. But one major focal point of the shuttered textile mill — the “Three Sisters” smokestacks — will remain.
Caesars says the brick chimney funnels will continue to tower over the property. The casino operator explains that the 18-story hotel will be lower than the stacks.
Mark Schlang, director of design and construction for Caesars Virginia, says the “Three Sisters” will be a focal point and “iconic element” of the destination.
Some local officials say it isn’t enough. During the design phase last year, several residents asked Caesars if it might consider incorporating some sort of museum honoring the importance of the former textile mill. Caesars reps at the time said the public’s input would be considered in the casino’s final design.
But the resort’s current blueprint does not include such an attraction where textile artifacts could be on display. Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones believes locals will still like the finished product.
“Over the course of the last 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 positively impact the community,” said Jones. “We are confident that Caesars Virginia will honor the old Dan River Mills’ Schoolfield site and become a pillar of pride for Danville and its people.”
Site Prep Nearing Completion
Caesars Danville says the 85-acre site will be ready for construction in the coming weeks. But while demolition and excavating work is proceeding on schedule, supply chain issues and labor shortages prompted Caesars to announce in May that it was postponing its planned 2023 opening for its Virginia introduction by a year.
Caesars Virginia is now scheduled to welcome guests beginning in 2024. The economic benefits, however, are immediate, as the casino has resulted in 900 construction jobs. The permanent resort is expected to employ around 1,300 people.