The Chicago City Council has approved a $1.74 billion project spearheaded by Bally's Corportation that will bring a casino to the city's River West neighborhood, capping off months and years of fierce fighting and tedious negotiations.
The deal, which was sent to the full council by a special committee consisting of aldermen on Monday, was approved by a 41-7 vote during the Wednesday meeting of the City Council.
The site will be constructed at the former Tribune Publishing plant in River North, and will feature a concert venue, 3,000-seat theater, fitness center, an outdoor park and music venue in the city's 27th Ward.
"I still think it is a great project and will help us with our budget crisis, so I support it 100%," said Ald. Walter Burnett, the ward's alderman.
But not everyone was on including Ald. Brendan Reilly, whose 42nd Ward includes the Medinah Temple, the proposed site of the temporary casino that could be up and running by next year.
"Now we will have a beacon in River North for all the criminals to know... People with money in their pockets are going to be coming to this block," he stated. "Good luck."
According to a press release from the Mayor's office, the permanent site at the Tribune Publishing Plant will need to be redeveloped, so Bally's is expected to open a temporary casino first in River North at the Medinah Temple, located at 600 N Wabash Ave -- the former site of a Bloomingdale's Home Store.
The site will feature six restaurants and a food hall, along with 3,400 slot machines and 170 table games, according to the Bally's proposal. The casino is expected to create thousands of temporary construction jobs and nearly 3,000 permanent jobs when it is completed, according to officials.
An extension of the Chicago Riverwalk is also expected to be part of the proposal.
Bally's is expected to pay the city $40 million as an upfront fee, with payments of $4 million per year thereafter.
The city estimates a casino will bring in $200 million a year in tax revenue -- money that is earmarked for police and fire pensions, according to officials.
According to officials, Bally's has committed to 60% minority hiring for its nearly 3,000 jobs, and has promised to hire union labor for numerous positions in the project.