This week the Chicago City Council approved plans for a $1.7 billion casino complex on the site of a former Chicago Tribune printing plant. Now, the only thing standing between groundbreaking for the decades-in-the-making project is an approval from the state’s gambling regulatory body.
The casino includes 4,000 gaming positions and 11 restaurants on the Chicago River at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street in West Town. Plans also call for a 500-room hotel, a 3,000-seat theater, a 23,000-square-foot museum, more than 3,000 parkings spaces, and a 2,100-square-foot riverside park with pedestrian pathways. A December 12 tweet from the city’s Department of Planning and Development noted that the development is expected to produce $75 million in infrastructure improvements and sustain 3,000 permanent jobs.
Global casino entertainment company Bally’s has tapped local firm SCB to design the casino and associated development.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Chicago officials are banking on fees and taxes from the project to finance police and fire pension funds, which are currently experiencing a shortfall. If the Illinois Gaming Board approves the project, Bally’s December 2022 presentation to the city noted that it will pay the city $40 million upfront, and make annual contributions of $2 million for community benefits and $2 million for the general fund, respectively.
The first phase of the project is seeking LEED Gold certification.
According to Bally’s, the development’s second phase aims to create a “spectacular regional destination” with almost 4,800 apartments, another hotel, and 125,000 square feet of retail spread out over 5.6 million square feet.
Although the casino plan cleared the City Council, it attracted its fair share of criticism in the process. Two representatives whose districts include the proposed development fear that it will aggravate downtown traffic and have questioned whether the casino will really be able to deliver on its promised fiscal benefits, CBS News reported. Bally’s, they claim, doesn’t have experience building casinos from the ground up, since the company has only purchased its other establishments.