Bally’s River West casino project draws mixed reaction from City Council

CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is betting big on Bally’s River West site for Chicago’s first casino. The location, however, still needs to get approval from members of the city council.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, the special committee meeting is only the second time they have met – the first since Lightfoot announced that she is supporting Bally’s.

The meeting began with public comments.

SEE ALSO: Lightfoot Chooses Bally’s River West Location for Chicago’s First Casino

The only people who came out in favor of Bally’s proposal were investors in the plan. The $1.7 billion casino project would replace the Chicago Tribune’s printing plant in River West if approved.

Media group Nexstar owns the land, along with WGN-TV.

The estimated annual income of $200 million is earmarked for public security pension debt.

Monday’s special committee meeting gave city council members an opportunity to ask questions of Bally’s representatives about their proposal. But many members expressed frustration with the process, saying it was moving too fast.

Residents have expressed concerns about the site of the proposed casino: traffic, crime and public safety.

SEE ALSO: Alderman and Near North Side residents push back on reported casino selection

Several aldermen say they feel pressured to approve the plan quickly to avoid raising property taxes. Still, others think the proposed casino would be a good move for the city.

“I support that,” Ald said. Walter Burnett (27th Ward). “Now that it’s been chosen in my area, I have to be honest with you all, I thought it would be the last place that would be chosen. But things work in mysterious ways.

“The idea that we’re going to vote on the legislation in about a week, and we just got a copy of the proposed legislation this afternoon, and we have these outstanding issues, that really, really concerns me,” Ald said. Brendan Reilly (Ward 42).

“We are here to listen to the remaining process and are happy to reflect any of the changes as it is important to the community,” Kim said.

Locals remain skeptical of the site. Bally’s Chairman of the Board, Soo Kim, addresses all concerns.

On Thursday evening, the public will have another chance to have their say at a town hall meeting. City and Bally’s representatives will be on hand to share information and answer questions from the community.

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