Aurora City Council votes 12-0 in favor of Hollywood Casino relocation; some residents furious – CBS Chicago

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By Chris Tye
/ CBS Chicago
AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — Aurora’s Hollywood casino is moving – the vote came down Tuesday night in the Aurora City Council.
The City of Aurora will be kicking in $50 million to help build out the region’s first casino resort.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, Aurora city leaders wanted a guarantee that taxpayers would not be on the line for the money – and the meeting got a bit heated over the issue.
The plan calls for the Hollywood Casino Aurora will move from its current location on the Fox River downtown – where it has been located since it opened in 1993 – to a site closer to the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), across from the Chicago Premium Outlets Mall.
The city-owned site on Farnsworth Avenue was most recently occupied by two hotels and a car dealership. Owner PENN Entertainment will take over ownership of that site in a swap for the current casino property – which the City of Aurora will take over.
The new facility will open mid-decade. Ten times the number of cars will pass by it compared to the current location.
There was no blowback at the City Council meeting on the move itself. It was all about the money attached to the project.
Amid applause and a 12-0 vote, the Aurora City Council approved the casino relocation plan Tuesday night.
“The light is shining a little brighter – a whole lot brighter – in the city of Aurora,” said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
The $360 million plan includes a $50 million bond issuance by the city, which the city has previously said would be repaid not from general taxpayer funds, but from increased property taxes received from the new site.
If property taxes are not enough to cover payment in a given year, PENN said it would make up the difference, the city said.
But some taxpayers don’t like the city kicking in anything – given the casino owners made $75 million from their now-30-year-old riverfront Aurora casino last year.
“It needs to be voted on by the residents of the citizens of Aurora,” said Jim Buzzard.  “We need to have this tabled until the election in April.”
“We need you working in our best interests – and when I say our best interests, I don’t mean what you think our best interests are,” said Shannon Buckley. “I mean what we tell you our best interests are.”
One man was seen storming through a hearing room, rhythmically chanting, “F**k you, f**k you,” and then saying: “Unions – I love you guys. We want to give you jobs – but not to this joker,” as he appeared to point at Mayor Irvin. Someone else called on him to “respect the mayor” as he was escorted out.
A handful of opponents had to be removed from the meeting. Angry over the city contributing money to the project. Even tho the city claims taxpayers won’t be on the hook. @cbschicago
For his part, Mayor Irvin says the vote sets the future for Illinois’ second largest city.
“We are re-energizing our city. We are developing our city. We are reimagining our city,” he said.
The proposed new casino will have 900 slot machines, 50 table games, a sportsbook, spa. bars, and restaurants in addition to a 200-room hotel and a 10,000 square-foot convention center.
The plan also calls for the old casino to be torn down and the site to be made ready for development. The City of Aurora would also take ownership of the casino barking garage.
Construction will begin late next year.
Chris Tye is a reporter and fill-in anchor at CBS2 Chicago.
First published on October 25, 2022 / 8:37 PM
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©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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