City greenlights Bally’s tweaked casino plan 

More than a year after gaining initial approval to build Chicago’s first casino, Bally’s vision is closer to becoming reality.

The city’s planning officials greenlit the gaming company’s revised plan for a 30-acre, $1.7 billion casino complex, at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, in River North, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. 

The tweaked plan calls for a 100-room hotel atop the casino, whereas the original proposal included a 400-room hotel tower on the north end of the site near the Chicago River. Bally’s was forced to make changes due to “unforeseen infrastructure issues.”

Despite this alteration, the company remains obligated to construct the 400-room hotel under its agreement with the city. Determining its location will require further discussion between Bally’s and city officials. The revised plan received approval without the need for City Council involvement.

Bally’s is satisfied with the approval and has adhered to city requirements, including commitment to its construction schedule, a company spokesperson said. However, the River North Residents Association has raised concerns about public safety and traffic, calling for an open and transparent review process with community input.

Construction at the River North site, currently housing the Chicago Tribune printing press, is set to begin in July. Last year, Bally’s agreed to pay the Chicago Tribune’s parent company, Alden Global Capital, a “series of cash payments” for it to vacate the property next year. 

Bally’s has been operating a temporary casino at the historic Medinah Temple since last summer, but its revenue has fallen short of expectations. Despite ranking among the top casinos in the state, raking in a $9.3 million profit in January, it has yet to meet revenue targets outlined by city officials for tax revenue allocation, the outlet said.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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