Hollywood Casino approaches I-88, leaving downtown Aurora

Hollywood Casino Aurora has announced its intention to leave downtown and move to a site near the intersection of Interstate 88 and Farnsworth Avenue in the city.

Officials from Penn Entertainment Inc., owners of Hollywood Casino, made the announcement Monday on their website, announcing that they would build a casino and hotel with about 900 slot machines, 50 live table games, a Barstool Sportsbook and about 200 hotel rooms in the new Aurora Site.

The property would also feature a full-service spa, bars and restaurants, about 10,000 square feet of meeting space and an events center.

According to Penn, the project would have an estimated budget of $360 million and would be adjacent to the Chicago Premium Outlets mall, just off the I-88 interchange.

This Aurora lot, the former home of two hotels and a car dealership along Farnsworth Avenue and Bilter Road, could be the location of a new $350 million casino development.

It would be on land the city purchased several years ago along Farnsworth that included two hotels that the city tore down, or on property the city purchased along Bilter Road where it tore down several homes.

Penn’s announcement did not specify where the development would be, but did say the deal would involve the city transferring land. He also said the city would contribute about $50 million to the project, raised through the issuance of bonds.

The city itself has not announced plans, although Clayton Muhammad, Aurora’s director of communications and equity, released a statement saying a full presentation of the redevelopment agreement between the city and Penn Entertainment would be made at the City’s Finance Committee meeting. Thursday City Council at 3 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 44 E. Downer Place.

That would be the beginning of the City Council process. Any redevelopment agreement requires council approval.

“The proposed plans represent one of the largest economic development investments in Aurora’s history,” said Muhammad.

In an interview with The Beacon-News several weeks ago, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said the pending deal would include all of the city’s land, both along Farnsworth and along Bilter. He said it would encompass an entire entertainment district in the area.

He said the casino move and the city’s investment is so the city can better take advantage of the nearly eight million people who visit the mall each year.

“It will change the face of the city of Aurora,” Irvin said.

“Our plan for Aurora is to build a best-in-class modern hotel and casino in an ideal location off I-88 that will allow us to serve the millions of visitors to the adjacent Simon Premium Outlet Mall,” said Jay Snowden, CEO and President of Penn Entertainment.

He said construction on the new property is expected to begin in late 2023, subject to city and regulatory approval.

In addition to announcing the move from Aurora, Penn Entertainment also announced that it would be moving its casino from downtown Joliet to the Rock Run Crossings development near the junction of Interstate 80 and Interstate 55.

“These two projects will significantly enhance our offerings in the attractive Chicagoland market while creating hundreds of new full-time jobs for local communities,” Snowden said.


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