Key city approvals have been granted for the upcoming Bally’s Casino at 777 W Chicago Avenue in River West. The approvals came from both City Council and Plan Commission that have now fully cleared the project to move forward within the city, with the last hurdle being the upcoming vote from the Illinois Gaming Board. Rhode Island-based Bally’s famously won the long bidding competition earlier this year and committed to creating their flagship property in the city with local architecture firm SCB working on its design and Site Design Group on landscape.
Earlier this fall we took a deep dive into the plans for the property after the Committee on Design review, since then it has received some updates based on the committee’s comments which were presented to the city. Kicking off the proposal is the 45,000-square-foot temporary facility at the historic Medinah Temple in River North, pending final approvals, it should open by next summer. We recently spotted construction fencing rising along its perimeter confirming that work is eminent.
The recent meetings saw many locals show up to express their desires for the controversial project, from local advocates like Bike Lane Uprising demanding better infrastructure to West Loop residents expressing their worries on increased traffic. As a reminder, the casino is part of the massive Planned Development 1426 along the river which is set to be built out by other developers as needed. Some of the concerns were partially addressed during the presentation.
Starting from the north, the previously proposed parking garage on the corner of Halsted and Chicago has been removed with the land now earmarked for future projects, with the previously proposed underground garage gaining an additional level with an added 500 spots for a total of 2,500. In order to support extra parking needs, a 700-space surface lot will be added on the adjacent empty lot and be monitored to see if another garage is needed in the long-term.
The hotel tower’s main entry was partially redesigned to be more welcoming and create additional usable public green space as well. This is also a major change to the project where the previously proposed pocket park for the fully built-out development has been scrapped, in exchange for a long linear park with an integrated bike trail running the length of the newly rebuilt Jefferson Street cutting through the full site. The park will emphasize community spaces with plenty of forestry, dog parks, and more.
Towards the southern end of the casino, the outdoor amphitheater along the river has been scrapped as well in exchange for a more formal park leading down to the future riverwalk along the casino structure. One of the last major changes is the rooftop pool removed from on top of the casino hotel building in the latest renderings and drawings in exchange for greenery.
Aside from other smaller changes, the project will still deliver a 500-foot-tall, 500-key hotel with a rooftop restaurant and plenty of amenities, a massive casino floor with 4,000 gaming positions, multiple food destinations, a 3,000-seat theater, a small museum, and a long riverwalk along the structure. This will also support a water taxi station and floating wetlands for the river’s health, all of this is still expected to be delivered by 2026, with no information on the surrounding massive planned development.