Forest City Partners, one of the three groups competing for the single casino license in Rockford, Illinois, has finally unveiled details about the plans for its project. In addition to a gaming venue and a hotel, Forest City plans to erect other amenities including a water park, a golf course, and a senior citizens complex.
If approved, the Forest City Casino is to be built on a 136-acre property off Rockford’s Lyford Road. Its competitor Hard Rock International unveiled its plans this past July at a gathering with business leaders and media representatives at the former Clock Tower Resort.
Hard Rock’s ideas include a gaming house, a hotel, and restaurants as well as music, comedy and entertainment venues. The project is backed by Rick Nielsen, the guitarist of Illinois band Cheap Trick, among others. It is to spread on 25 acres of land on East State Street.
The last of the three contenders for the license is the Rock River West Group which campaigned its 13-acre project heavily over social media. The Group has revealed its casino and hotel complex is expected to create jobs for 600 to 1,000 people. If approved, the complex is to be located next to a hotel and conference center that is expected to open doors next year.
The Cost of the 136-Acre Forest City Casino is Estimated at $500 Million
Unlike its competitors, Forest City opted to remain silent about its project’s details so far. Forest City Partners consists of a single member, Darren Lazan, who heads the Landform Professional Services and Landform Development Partners in Minneapolis. According to him, four to six people have already voiced their interest in joining him in the project.
Lazan explained to local media he has founded Forest City Partners for the purposes of organization and structuring equity positions. He also revealed Henry Leong, a Chicago-based developer, is the project’s backer while Forest City Casino is the license applicant.
Leong has previous experience with gaming companies. He worked as an independent marketing consultant for gambling giants like the MGM and Trump Casino. According to Lazan, his backer is to bring more equity partners to the Forest City Casino project.
In his words, the boutique hotel and the casino part of the complex will occupy around 52 acres. A housing center for seniors is also planned as part of the project and would take up about 7 acres. The entire 136-acre project is estimated to cost around $500 million, Lazan explained.
Lazan pointed Kurt Hudson as the consultant of construction management for Forest City Casino. Forest City is looking to build its complex on a property owned by Stillman Bank. The latter acquired it via the property foreclosure of a local family. The Forest City Casino holds 14-month rights of purchase for the parcel.
A public hearing will take place on Monday at the Coronaro Performing Arts Center, during which the three contenders for the casino license will unveil their plans to Rockford’s citizens. The city’s Mayor Tom McNamara stated on Tuesday that the city staff is expected to draw up recommendations for the property (or properties) likely to be certified for the establishment of the casino. The Illinois gambling regulator is to have the final say on the matter.