Update: Bally’s Revises Plans For Permanent Casino Without Hotel Tower

Updated renderings for permanent casino via Bally's

Revised plans have been revealed for the upcoming Bally’s casino at 777 W Chicago Avenue in River West. Located on the corner with N Halsted Street and replacing the Chicago Tribune printing facility, developer Bally’s has begun the bidding and permit process with revised plans for the complex. The property is being designed by SCB, Gensler, Site Design Group, Urbanworks, STL Architects, and NIA Architects among others.

UPDATE: Since we published this article this morning, Bally’s has addressed the changes, see more below labeled in bold.

Previous rendering of permanent casino via Bally’s

Bally’s was chosen after a multi-year selection process with the city, which saw competing bids from other major players like Hard Rock at One Central, Rivers at The 78, and Bally’s at McCormick Place. Bally’s winning bid presented the previous plans multiple times last year to the community and city, with slight revisions to the overall aesthetic mostly, and receiving approvals for the design.

Previous build-out plans of permanent casino by SCB

These original plans called for a small park on the south end of the site leading to the riverwalk, this connected to the large casino building with a performance center, museum, conference rooms, and casino with 4,000 gaming positions. Crowning the project would be a 500-foot-tall tower and 500-key hotel tower on the north end of the site with a large drop-off space, along with 2,500 vehicle parking spaces.

Caisson Permit Application – 2023

Permit application via City of Chicago

Caisson permits for this design, including the five-story casino, event center, and 35-story tower with 500-hotel rooms, were applied for in October 2023.

Updated Plans

Updated plans for permanent casino via Bally’s

Now the major changes to the plans come after Bally’s received approval for their permanent gaming license for the Tribune site last October, just before receiving approval to run the temporary location at the Medinah Temple 24/7. The casino building will remain relatively the same with a four-story events center still adjacent to the park on the southern end, with the hotel tower being removed.

Updated plans for permanent casino via Bally’s

While not fully confirmed, the renderings shown to potential bidders do not show the 500-foot-tall tower, which was used to win the bid as part of the requirements. Now plans show a new 100-key and three-story hotel structure being built over the northern end of the casino building, with the casino structure extending over the previously proposed connecting wintergarden.

UPDATE: Bally’s has revealed the tower will now be part of a second phase in a new location. This is due to the municipal water lines running below the footprint. At the moment the casino is exploring a new location to the south of the site or around the events center, with 400-rooms to compliment the 100 mentioned above. However no design has been finalized nor a timeline for this new second-phase, it is worth noting that prior to this phasing had not been mentioned.

Caisson Permit Application – 2024

Permit application via City of Chicago

Caisson permits for this design, with a revised four-story, 74-foot-tall casino, event center, and 100 hotel rooms, were applied for yesterday January 16th.

Updated plans for permanent casino via Bally’s

Though the size cannot be confirmed, a slightly smaller area will remain open to the north of the casino, which could be used to potentially build a tower in the future or separately. The updates also come after slight controversy with the casino running busses to pick up players and reporting numbers lower than expected for 2023, albeit opening later than originally announced. The new plans may also come with a revised cost different from the original $1.7 billion.

UPDATE: We now know this small portion of land to the north of the site will no longer contain the hotel tower.

In May of last year Bally’s reported they were ahead of schedule and on budget for the permanent casino with the land recently being secured as well, this would allow for a 2026 opening.

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53 Comments on "Update: Bally’s Revises Plans For Permanent Casino Without Hotel Tower"

  1. So lame, can’t believe they’re removing the high-rise

    • They’re probably doing it to save on expense.

      While I’m not trying to defend the choice, Bally’s is likely just trying to cut costs as the addition of a high rise is just more cost to an already billion dollar project.

  2. If the city and state promised Bally’s any incentives to build, I hope those are taken back since they are downgrading the development. That most likely means smaller tax revenue.

  3. This is bait-and-switch. They should not g be r allowed to continue.

  4. This is bait-and-switch. They should not be allowed to continue.

  5. this is terrible. the ower was a major part of the application. SAD. Will we be left with a big bland casino box taking up space by the river in the end?

  6. The city should consider getting out of the Bally’s deal. The revised plan is not what the city agreed to when the proposal was accepted. Bally’s is building an ugly suburban-style casino that is not worthy of such a location.

  7. For those somehow bothered by the fact that there won’t be a 50-story tower right there, keep in mind that across the street on Chicago Avenue are being built seven towers raging from almost 40 stories to upwards of 60 stories.

    • It’s a waste of space with this remodel. The only reason they got the permit is due to the tower. Chicago shouldn’t accept developers being this cheap. We need high density and good developments that will last. Not some cheap effort from a casino company. The removal of the park alone should be enough reason to pull this monstrosity.

  8. Talk about bait and switch, let’s reopen the bidding process and do this again. The 78 with a new Red Line stop seems like such and obvious choice.

    • I think it would be better to replace the White Sox ballpark with the casino. Right next to the Dan Ryan and an el stop. If the White Sox try to talk tough on a lease renewal, the ISFA should tell them to get out and sell the land for a casino.

      • Steve River North | January 17, 2024 at 10:32 am | Reply

        Better yet, over the Pink line by the United Center. Basketball, Hockey, Concerts there bring traffic to the area over 180 days a year.

  9. Here it comes, by choosing the worst project lightfoot made this happened. Not surprised. Every other project was so much more impressive from architectural perspective. 🤦🏻‍♂️

  10. If they deem a big hotel unnecessary, why not just keep the casino at Medinah Temple? It’s a use for a beautiful structure that needed an occupant and it’s in a good location (plus, it’s not like the casino is anywhere near capacity). If Bally’s can’t deliver their promised development, the city should stand its ground and not accept it. There are better uses for the riverfront anyway.

  11. The hotel was a key part of traffic mitigations for the plan. Unless Bally’s is providing an updated traffic study showing that an increase in visitors commuting from other hotels won’t be a problem, this is a breach of terms.

  12. marvin B anderson | January 17, 2024 at 9:08 am | Reply

    The city should rescind this casino at this location immediately. This is another Lightfoot disaster that the present administration is not obligated to honor. The 78 casino proposal should have been the chosen site, and the city should see if it can be revived.

  13. Well that’s unfortunate. I’m not much of a gambler so the tower was the only part I was excited about. Not only that, the design overall just isn’t very good at all.

  14. Now if they cancel the casino part and build A bunch of well designed towers that engage pedestrian traffic on a newly installed grid of full sized streets, the casino project would be perfect.

  15. A low rise casino structure was already a lame use of this prime riverfront site, which has such amazing potential. Removing the tower is just an insulting bait-and-switch. If Bally’s had presented this version during the RFP phase it wouldn’t have been selected.

  16. Yea no, if they can’t keep their promise. They shouldn’t get this bid. Waste of space, sad to see Nimbys and cheaper business owners ruins decent proposal but this should not go through. This place needs public space and the park was the least they can do. If they can’t do the tower they should definitely lost their permit.

  17. Reject them immediately & let’s redo the bidding process. I’d even explore suing them.

  18. Bally’s is a slow rolling disaster.

  19. Train wreck! I think Bally’s wants out of this deal and is thus proposing this crap. They have no cash – check out their financials $3.5 billion in debt and lost $62m in the last quarter. All the architects involved must be embarrassed to be involved in the ‘Walmart on the river’

  20. Big waste. This place. In the city. Made for. Robberies

  21. This is disgusting and should not be allowed to continue. Revized plan looks absolutely abysmal. Good luck ever using Halsted as a thoroughfare again. And if they’re already downsizing the plan, just imagine how many of other parts of the project or towers will be removed in the future too. Come on Chicago and BJ, use some common sense here…. red flags, come on Chicago

  22. Bally knew from the get go they were not able to do a 50 story signature piece that also reduced automobile traffic.
    They lied and misrepresented the city should immediately tell Bally to reinstate the hotel or the proposals approvals are voided .

  23. Agree with the majority here. Rescind and re-bid!

  24. Guillermo Gonzalez | January 17, 2024 at 10:41 am | Reply

    Absolutely not. What can we do to stop this? Insanity.

  25. Wow. Can us Yimby’s somehow get some more fire under the mayor to cancel this? Really, really bad use of space this close to the city on the river if there is 0 density..

  26. ReOpen the Bid Process, They Renigging already. Sure would have liked the Casino to have landed in 1 of the Invest in South/West Neighborhoods.

  27. Alexis Martinez | January 17, 2024 at 11:21 am | Reply

    What a load of crap. They should pull the permits, the tax revenue, and jobs generated by a 500-room hotel, which were part of the reason this project made sense. I would pull the plug. What we will get is a trimmed-down, bare-bones casino..not anything that Chicago can claim is world-class.

    • What A. Mistake | January 17, 2024 at 5:14 pm | Reply

      Not surprised Bally’s not upholding to their end of the bargain. They’re not doing it within the workplace either! They continually reduced table minimums to miniscule wagers..while removing bonus bets to whwre the guests are always complaining! Many workers left in the 1st week and continue to do so EVERYDAY! Super horrible management. Many of them promised promoted levels in positions they have no experience and of course that has led to a HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT! Employees paying for parking…no kitchen available for meals and very angry and disrespectful bosses! IT’S A HOT MESS!!!
      Employees must request security to be escorted to the parking garage due to several attacks on coworkers!

  28. Google search “New $1.7 billion Bally’s Chicago casino at risk, says city official”. A Chicago alderman basically predicted Bally’s not being able to see their construction plans through

  29. Bobby Siemiaszko | January 17, 2024 at 1:29 pm | Reply

    Cancel Bally’s and build on the 78 like it should’ve been in the first place. Just terrible Chicago politics as usual! Chicago should sue them.

  30. this is not right. I never wanted the thing in the first place, but the tower made it a “destination”. Without that its, day traffic only and that was not the intention at ALL. rebid, pick the better site at the 78 and let’s get rid of the Lightfoot middle finger.

  31. Ok you guys take a deep breath. If you actually read the article it says they can’t build the tower there because of conflict with municipal water lines. My guess is that the Office of Underground Coordination (OUC) which notoriously gets involved in issues it should not is making the foundation for the hotel unworkable. They need to move forward with the casino ASAP and can’t wait to resolve to satisfy the OUC. I know from work on another project nearby that there happens to be a VERY, VERY large water main (16 feet in diameter, I think) running under Chicago Avenue at that location. It brings water from 2 cribs in Lake Michigan and links the Water Tower pumping station with the Springfield and Central Park stations.

    • If that’s truly the case, they should’ve never steamrolled through the approval process. That vital bit of information should’ve been a design constraint from the very start, and just “finding” this out now/going “uh-oh” with a lazy shoulder shrug and kick of a pebble, some serious consequences should be in order.

      In architecture school, even our teachers taught us better to do a little site analysis. We maybe weren’t looking into the jurisdictions of water mains, but I am pretty sure multi-million-dollar investments don’t just “accidentally” come across issues like that before getting the go-ahead and blessing from the city.

      Lightfoot allowed this to be selected with little to no oversight, and once again, Chicago has let a private entity do whatever the hell it wants. She’s almost trying to leave a legacy as bad as the parking meters.

      One beautiful chunk of the river that can’t be replicated, and we get a casino that’s built for Joliet.

      If the water main is that critical, a proper design review should’ve never let this proposal win. The process selection was already sketchy. This is the icing on the turd cake. At least we can get a parking reduction… Right? RIGHT?!

      • Two issues could be going on here.

        1) This type if information of public infrastructure in Chicago is often not readily available when doing design work. It often comes out of the review with OUC. The City also should bear some of the blame if it wasn’t shared. The water department is particularly inept in this regard.
        2) The architects and engineers could have been aware of the water main the entire time, and designed the project with it in mind. But, the people running OUC (and the water department’s outsources engineers) often follow their own misguided bureaucratic rules that set their own standards of what they believe is acceptable. The solution to satisfy the OUC could have been way to expensive or then engineering could have take way too long to be economically viable. Typically a building of this size will be on caissons that are drilled to bedrock. In this case the water main is IN the bedrock so forces from the caissons will be exerted on the water main even though the water main may not be directly under the property.

    • It’s hard to believe that the project’s architectural and engineering design, and detailed structural foundation engineering would have progressed without knowledge of utility infrastructure or easements within the site boundaries. One of the first project pre-design tasks is having a civil engineering consultant prepare a detailed site survey which identifies all existing site infrastructure, utilities, easements, etc.

      Given that a caisson permit application was made in October, 2023 that included the 35 story tower, the application would have required detailed structural engineering drawings for the foundations. It suspends belief that the engineering consultants on the project would only now learn of a massive water main traversing the site. It easier to assume that they were aware of this and designed a structural system which either straddled or avoided the underground utilities, or proposed a relocation. If they, (owner, architects, engineers, etc.), are only learning/addressing this now, the level of professional incompetence would be stunning.

  32. Already hugely underwhelming architecturally, this just adds insult to injury in our hopes for a world class destination. Blow it up and restart it!

  33. Does anyone else think it looks like the old Sun-Times building along the Chicago River which now holds Trump Tower… bad design, such a monumental loss that could’ve been spectacular especially being built right next to the river. Looks like huge potential loss in design.

  34. What an urban design nightmare for decades to come. Removing green space on the river, removing high-rise density, and replacing it with a big box Walmart on the beautiful riverfront which has so much potential for groundbreaking development. There’s nothing special about this project, and who wants a casino anyways? Anyone?? Anyoneee??? Drive to Hammond Indiana if you’re looking for a suburban style casino to smoke your cigarettes and sit at the slot machine.

  35. The revised casino plan has deviated entirely from the original rendering of “The only casino to be built in Chicago”. Any casino complex constructed on that riverfront land should be built with a long term vision, not some short-term big box monstrosity that doesn’t capitalize on architectural appeal and urban density. The city should send Bally’s right back to the drawing board. Really Bally’s!?! #NOtoThatCasinoInABox #GamblersWarehouse

  36. Tremendous L for Chicago. This looks like garbage straight out gary indiana. Chicago is simply not comparable to the great cities anymore.

    Ian, thanks for exposing this with your usual hard work.

  37. So, less than a week after multiple news outlets report the temporary Bally’s hitting less than 30 percent revenue targets, news breaks that they’re reducing the scope of the permanent project due to infrastructure issues. That tower is expensive to build.
    Now news hits that the Sox are in negotiations for The 78, effectively closing that door for the casino.
    Since the original approval, the building has less windows and has gotten uglier, the park has gotten smaller and – now – no hotel. Just scrap the whole damn thing, and stay at Medina.

  38. Coastal Elitist | January 18, 2024 at 8:22 am | Reply

    I usually think that people tend to be overly critical on here, but…this is a yikes from me even

  39. Walking thru the lakeside Mccormick place the last two days, it’s absolutely amazing to me that this was not where the casino would have been chosen to be built. Right next to the convention center and not one but four connecting hotels. Parking garage already in place. A major theater already inside the structure (Arie crown) and a footprint that will have housed a tremendous amount of space for restaurants clubs shops etc with one of the largest casinos, if not the largest casino outside of Vegas.

  40. What an urban design nightmare for decades to come. Removing green space on the river, removing high-rise density, and replacing it with a big box Walmart on the beautiful riverfront
    which has so much potential for groundbreaking development. There’s nothing special about this project, and who wants a casino anyways?
    Anyone?? Anyoneee??? Drive to Hammond Indiana if you’re looking for a suburban style casino…

  41. Doesn’t even look as if this will proceed given that Bally’s holding company just declared bankruptcy. It’s possible that financing is being provided by another entity but it looks likely that the downscaling was a product of financial woes that may eventually lead to the project’s cancellation. Maybe there is a silver lining after all.

    • Are you confusing the sports network with Bally’s? The entity going bankrupt isn’t related, they just sold naming rights to Bally’s.

  42. So, are the major highrise projects underway on the north side of Chicago Ave also a concern?

  43. The questions really should be…. Who in city government is allowing this change? Why are they approving this change? Contrary to above statements, any project of this size would of looked at the utilities before the bid process. This information is very inexpensive and easy to get.

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