The City of Chicago has completed the first round of community presentations for the final three casino bids. Earlier this year in March news broke of the mayor selecting the three sites with the first community meetings beginning early in April, this ruled out the Bally’s and Rivers McCormick Place bids, leaving us with Bally’s Tribune, Hard Rock’s One Central, and Rivers The 78 as the remaining choices. While the meetings were to educate the public and answer any questions, they riled up some controversies among local community groups. Recordings of the presentations can be found here.
Hard Rock One Central Bid
The meeting which took place April 6th revealed a handful of new details on the $1.7 billion proposal which is hoping to kick start the mega-development and utilize the McCormick Place Lakeside Center as its temporary location. With a recently launched website, the presenters stated the project would take around 30 months to build while creating over 6,800 and up to 19,000 jobs from construction to operations. It is worth noting that the project has yet to strike a deal with the use of the Lakeside Center, which has been mentioned by its operators to not be a viable option.
Other information disclosed was that funding wouldn’t be an issue for the roughly 35-story tower and casino, stating that the bid has a strong backing from Hard Rock who has done multiple casinos in the past. It was also emphasized that although it will utilize One Central’s land, it wouldn’t be a part of the development, but because of it One Central would be scaled back by roughly 20 percent. The bid received criticism from the neighbors including from the operator of McCormick Place who expressed that some major conferences will not want to host their events near a casino.
Bally’s Tribune Center Bid
Being the bid that has received the largest redesign since its launch, the meeting which took place April 7th within the building that would be their temporary facility revealed further details on the new concept. With an anticipated three-year construction timeline, the proposal would be a part of planned development 1426 which was approved in 2018 for roughly 8.5 million square feet of space. The updated one million-square-foot casino complex will decrease the plan’s overall size to 6.5 million which was used to argue against many of the traffic concerns. Although most in attendance oppose the proposal, the local alderman says there are large groups who didn’t attend support it.
The updated design is being executed by SCB and will pursue LEED certification, the completed $1.7 billion project would deliver a 37-story hotel tower, roughly 3,000 parking spaces in an underground garage, 2,100 feet of riverwalk and parks, as well as a 70,000-square-foot entertainment venue and 20,000-square-foot exhibition space. Also being considered are a new pedestrian bridge over the river, various green spaces, and a rough redesign of the development layout. Along with the push back there was also some controversy with members of neighborhood committees privately meeting with the developers prior to the presentations.
Rivers The 78 Bid
As one of the most anticipated bids, the meeting took place on April 7th and received plenty of negative feedback from area residents who also expressed disdain towards the greater 78 project. The local alderman reported roughly 80 percent of residents surveyed about the proposal opposed it, this was followed up by protesters outside of the presentation and multiple people yelling to the point of having the microphone shut-off. The meeting did bring out a few new details including the confirmation of the riverboat temporary facility and the construction of the future CTA Red Line 15th Street stop.
Other details included highlighting the creation of 4,000 construction jobs, 3,500 permanent jobs, and roughly 5,000 students that will utilize the nearby Discovery Partners Institute that just received their land transfer. It is also worth noting that The 78 Community Advisory Council held a press conference this past week stating they are against the proposal, with some worrying that if the casino bid isn’t won the $7 billion mega-development could be in jeopardy.
The city will now proceed to analyze the feedback from the various presentations and determine if they are ready to make a choice. While there is no clear winner, it is predicted each proposal will deliver a different level of tax revenue, after six years Hard Rock is predicted to bring in $185 million, Bally’s $195 million, and Rivers $174 million. At the moment there is no formal timeline on when a decision could be made, however you can read the journey of the casino selection here.