Downtown Edmonton is in much need of a renovation and a new casino is going to be one of the main starting points. Construction is underway on The Grand Villa Casino, which is expected to be sleek and chic, and revive an area that has become very dated.
The Grand Villa Casino is a huge project that has been undertaken to replace the Baccarat Casino, which is nearby but has become a relic. And that may be a compliment for what many locals often referred to as the ugliest building in the city.
At any rate, the Baccarat Casino will be phased out and the Grand Villa Casino will be phased in. The latter is slated to be 125,000 square feet in size and it is due to cost around $32 million as the city is looking to revive the area. It won't just be a casino, though, as they'll be following the Las Vegas model. There will be some all sorts of attractive dining options from high-end to hipster.
It is taking over 150 construction workers to put it together and they're working day and night to get it done by the fall, although the first due date was in the summer of 2016. These projects often get delayed, though, and Gateway Casinos, which is running the project, is adamant that they'll meet the fall deadline. The latest estimates suggest a September opening.
Gateway Casinos realize that people just don't go to the casino to play games; some like to go for the atmosphere or to grab a bite to eat and then maybe they'll hit the machines or the card tables. There is also going to be an area for live entertainment as the casino can then draw touring musicians and other sorts of talent to bring in other streams of revenue.
The plan is that the Grand Villa Casino is supposed to add at least 200 new jobs to downtown Edmonton, which is important as the area has been struggling economically in recent years. People are hoping that the new casino can jazz up the place a little, become an attraction and attract some business. In other words, not only will it create some jobs, it may attract tourism and draw locals to come downtown and infuse a little bit of money in the neighborhood.
This is just the beginning as Edmonton City Council has a lot of plans for the future of the downtown core but this is one of the centerpieces. There's no question that the area will be very different and modern in a decade's time. They've spoken about having a "critical mass" of attractions to get the foot traffic, but in terms of how they'll remodel the area beyond the casino, the city has been tight-lipped about their plans beyond this.
If the builders hold true to their deadlines, it will be a busy September for openings in Edmonton. It's expected that Rogers Place - the new $613.7 million arena which will host the Edmonton Oilers - will open up that month as well.