AURORA, IL — A proposal to relocate and expand Aurora’s Hollywood casino is approved for a final vote at Aurora’s City Council meeting on October 25.
If the deal passes — the 12-member city council had no objections to the proposal at Tuesday’s full committee meeting — the new complex will be located on Farnsworth Avenue across from the Chicago Premium Outlets on the east side. from the city.
The new Hollywood Casino campus would move from its current location on the Fox River to the I-88 corridor where it would occupy space that would include a 200-room hotel and 10,000 square foot event space, officials said. The city-owned site most recently housed two hotels and a car dealership.
As part of the $360 million proposal, the city would transfer ownership of the site to Penn Entertainment, the Pennsylvania-based company that operates several racetracks and casinos, in exchange for current casino ownership and parking at the center. -city, according to communications director Clayton. Mohammed.
Officials noted that Penn Entertainment would also exercise its option to purchase land immediately west of the proposed Farnsworth Avenue site. Currently the grounds are occupied by C-Club and Gaslite Manor Banquets, both facing Church Road.
The funding includes a $50 million bond issue from the city, which officials said would be repaid from increased property taxes received from the new site, not from general taxpayer funds.
“As added insurance, if property taxes are not enough to cover a given year’s payment, Penn has agreed to make up the difference,” Clayton wrote in an email.
This is where some Aurorans cited issues. Residents who attended Tuesday’s meeting spoke at the meeting to question why Penn Entertainment needed $50 million from the city. According to the company’s fourth quarter 2021 financial report, it generated $1.6 billion in revenue and $44.8 million.
“They have all the money in the world, but they’re asking our town for handouts to build another asset for them,” one resident said.
Others cited issues of a lack of transparency from municipal authorities and a tendency to support business rather than the community.
“Time and time again…we continue to see our city council represent businesses and corporations and not the people who live in this community,” one commenter said. “If you are economic developers rather than community builders, if you are politicians rather than servants of this community, then I think it’s time for you to step down and for the community to reject you.”
City council members listened to the comments but did not respond during the meeting.
If Tuesday night’s vote clears the city council, construction will begin in late 2023, bringing nearly 1,000 construction jobs and 700 permanent jobs to Aurora, according to Muhammad.