Chicago

Proposed Chicago casino could get City Council vote next week, despite complaints decision is rushed – Chicago Tribune

Chicago aldermen grilled metropolis officers about plans to position a casino in River West however Mayor Lori Lightfoot is urgent forward with an bold plan to get the project accredited as quickly as next week.

A vote on Lightfoot’s plan for Bally’s to build a $1.74 billion casino, resort and leisure improvement in River West — on land now occupied by the Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center printing plant — was postponed on Friday, however casino committee chairman Tom Tunney mentioned the City Council is anticipated to vote next week.

Much of the talk at a committee listening to centered on criticism leveled by downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly, forty second, who mentioned town was dashing by means of a decision that could improve crime and visitors.

Reilly additionally questioned whether or not the casino would be the monetary boon Lightfoot officers have mentioned it could be, noting aldermen haven’t quite a lot of monetary analyses.

Earlier this month, Lightfoot selected to advance the Bally’s proposal over two others.

Bally’s succeeded for quite a lot of causes, town mentioned, together with that they don’t have a competing casino within the Chicagoland area and reached a labor peace settlement with the Chicago Federal of Labor. Bally’s additionally included an upfront cost of $25 million to town in its proposal — the one one of many three bidders to try this — after which later upped that to $40 million.

Bally’s had additionally supplied an annual $2 million “impact fee” cost to town and has newly proposed including on one other $2 million yearly “indirect impact fee.”

Chicago is banking on a casino to generate $200 million in annual tax income to assist cope with huge and increasing holes in its public pension funds, which the Civic Federation final year referred to as “severely underfunded.”

But Ald. Gilbert Villegas requested Friday if Bally’s could assure that town will precise see that form of income. Chicago Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett mentioned no, it may’t be assured.

Ald. Brian Hopkins, who additionally represents components of downtown, requested town about Bally’s having a junk credit standing. Bennett mentioned Bally’s has $1.7 billion money readily available and town vetted them totally.

Many residents within the River West and River North areas are lining up in opposition. In addition to worries that the casino would convey extra crime and visitors to the realm and damage property values, some detractors are angered about an approval course of they are saying is shifting too shortly. The particular casino committee solely met as soon as earlier than Lightfoot introduced which of the three finalists’ proposals she would advance.

In one concession to neighborhood issues, Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim advised residents who attended a latest Town Hall meeting that he would drop plans to attach the leisure advanced to a close-by residential space with a pedestrian bridge.

The advanced is to incorporate an exhibition corridor, 500-room resort, a 3,000-seat theater, an out of doors music venue, six eating places and, for playing, 3,400 slots and 170 sport tables, officers mentioned.

If accredited by the total council and state playing officers, Bally’s goals to open a short lived casino by the second quarter of 2023 — town says that will likely be positioned downtown on the landmark Medinah Temple constructing — with the everlasting casino slated to open within the first quarter of 2026.

The Medinah Temple constructing, a roughly 130,000-square-foot structure at 600 N. Wabash Ave., has been vacant for nearly two years after retail chain Macy’s moved its Bloomingdale’s retailer out of the location. Chicago developer Friedman Properties, a mainstay in River North actual property, is its present proprietor.

The Medinah plan has drawn the ire of the native alderman and different opponents, who argue it’s going to convey an excessive amount of crime and visitors to an space with out sufficient police resources to deal with the inflow.

Even if the project passes by means of City Council — a vote could occur as early as Monday — plans for the momentary and everlasting casinos should nonetheless win approval by the Illinois Gaming Board.

Tunney held open the chance that the committee would possibly once more delay a vote on Monday, although he mentioned he could be taking his colleagues’ temperature over the weekend.

”I believe we’re going to do our due diligence over the weekend and take a look at to verify we give trustworthy solutions to the questions, whether or not we agree with them or not,” Tunney mentioned.

Tribune’s Robert Channick contributed.

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