Virginia is getting a huge construction project and a slice of Las Vegas in the form of a huge, half-a-billion dollar casino hotel in Danville, and the project has taken a major step forward. After state voters approved Caesars Entertainment’s Caesars Virginia in November 2020 and original renderings for the project were unveiled in September 2021, the casino company announced that it had selected Whiting-Turner Contracting Company as the general contractor for the project.
“We are confident Whiting-Turner, and their proven record of success, will make for an incredible partner to build the world-class resort we’ve promised the City of Danville,” said Robert Livingston, Senior Vice President of Development for Caesars Entertainment.
The project is projected to cost $500 million, with President and Chief Operating Officer of Caesars Entertainment Anthony Carano claiming that “Caesars Virginia will be an economic driver for the region, both as a tourist and entertainment draw and through the more than a thousand good-paying jobs the resort will create.”
The project includes 500 rooms as well as a full casino, with an additional 40,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. Besides a large number of “operational jobs” that the project will add, construction is expected to add at least 900 jobs to the Danville area.
Site work has already begun on the project — though it’s already come across a minor hurdle. Though the company originally hoped to open the casino sometime in the second half of 2023, Caesars announced just a week after the selection of Whiting-Turner that the project’s original 2023 deadline was “unrealistic,” with Caesars senior vice president Robert Livingston noting that “the reality of where we’re at” will push the project’s completion back to 2024.
Whiting-Turner is one of the largest and most notable contractors in the United States, with the Engineering News-Record listing it as having the fifth-most revenue in the country in 2021. Operating in a large number of markets (with 27 offices nationwide), the company is also notable for being financially independent and one of the most financially stable general contractors.
The company also has a background in taking on major entertainment projects similar to Caesars Virginia. It contributed $80 million of work on the recently-opened Palms Casino Resort Fantasy Tower in Las Vegas, as well as $250 million of work for the 2021 expansion of Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Cherokee, North Carolina.
Of course, despite the stability of the contractor itself, these projects can be volatile given all the moving parts that can cause payment problems.
Recent Levelset coverage in August 2021 pointed out that another major casino project, Colorado’s Monarch Casino Black Hawk, faced nearly $50 million in liens from its general contractor and multiple subcontractors amid a major payment dispute.
Generally, Whiting-Turner has a positive reputation with subcontractors on its projects. The company has a B payment score on its Levelset payment profile, earning a solid 84/100 with regards to its payment practices.
“They were professional, communicative, and pleasant to work with,” one subcontractor noted, a sentiment echoed by another’s claim that the company was “professional to work with and paid out in a timely manner.”
“Once you learn how to navigate their payment app process it’s really easy to get paid on time,” added another subcontractor. “The folks on the site were professional and easy to work with. Our company documents everything which made it even easier to show completed work for invoicing.”
Even though Whiting-Turner has a strong reputation, issues happen at every level, and no company is completely immune to payment problems.
One subcontractor noted that when working with Whiting-Turner, contractors should “expect [to] meet unrealistic timelines even if delays were caused by others,” adding that the company “[makes] verbal agreements for change orders and expect you to do the work [ASAP], then won’t honor the full amount of change order.”
Another subcontractor agreed, saying “don’t walk, run away as fast as you can,” while adding that Whiting-Turner is a “horrible GC to work for”: “These guys will work you for every dime they can from the very beginning…They will sign change orders and not honor them. Then, when the work is done they won’t pay.”
However, as construction attorney Nate Budde notes, not all payment disputes are directly caused by the general contractor, and payment disputes are common across the entire construction industry. Contractors and subcontractors can prequalify the GCs they plan to work with to be as prepared as possible before a job.
Interesting in working with Whiting-Turner? Check out Whiting-Turner for Subcontractors: Payment Guide & Resources.