CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is betting big on Bally’s River West site for Chicago’s first casino. The location still has to get the stamp of approval from city council members, however.
Starting at 11 a.m. Monday, the special committee meeting is only the second time they’ve met – the first since Lightfoot announced she’s backing Bally’s.
The meeting started with public comment.
The only people who spoke in favor of Bally’s proposal were investors in the plan. The $1.7 billion casino project would replace the Chicago Tribune Printing Plant in River West if approved.
Nexstar media group owns the land, as well as WGN-TV.
The estimated $200 million in annual income is earmarked for the public safety pension debt.
Monday’s special committee meeting gave city council members a chance to ask Bally’s representative questions about their proposal. But many members expressed their frustrations with the process, saying that it’s moving too quickly.
Locals have expressed concerns with the proposed casino site: traffic, crime, and public safety.
Several aldermen say they feel pressured to approve the plan quickly to avoid raising property taxes. Yet others believe the proposed casino would be a good move for the city.
“I support this,” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward). “Now that it’s been chosen in my area, I’ve got to be honest with you all, I thought this would be the last place that would be chosen. But things work in mysterious ways.”
“The idea that we’re going to be voting on legislation in about a week, and we just received a copy of the proposed legislation this afternoon, and that we have these questions outstanding, that really, really gives me cause for concern,” said Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward).
“We are here to listen to the remaining process and we are happy to reflect any of the changes to the extent that it’s important to the community,” Kim said.
Area residents remain skeptical about the site. Bally’s board chairman Soo Kim is fielding all concerns.
Thursday night, the public will have another chance to provide input during a town hall. Representatives from both the city and Bally’s will be there to share information and answer questions from the community.