As the planned transformation of Medinah Temple in downtown Chicago into a temporary casino unfolds, a mix of criticism, concern and support rose in regard to the state’s first legal gambling operation during a community meeting on Monday.
Bally’s casino is set to temporarily occupy the historic Medinah Temple before moving to its permanent riverfront location on Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street. The gambling company won the city’s approval for a new site in River West in May.
Bally’s Corp. has solicited community input, and altered its master plan, as it pursues a $1.7 billion dollar development in River West. The permanent property plan calls for a development with several uses, including more than 4,500 residences, a 3,000-seat indoor theatre, new parks, new streets, and a riverwalk. It would all be anchored by a casino with 4,000 gaming positions.
Medinah Temple Bally’s executives said Monday that they’ve met several times with community stakeholders, represented by more than two dozen groups, adding that the biggest concerns were traffic, noise, and safety.
As reported by NBC Chicago, Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi also attended the meeting, and told several residents that the city is working to make the site easily accessible to people by car, bike, and the CTA.
Rendering for Bally’s permanent Chicago casino. The group has altered its plans several times as a result of community feedback. For example, a bridge at Erie Street over the Chicago River has been omitted from the latest proposal.
During the meeting, more than two dozen speakers brought up several issues to Bally’s executives and city officials. Although community comment was mixed overall, the group has promised to work on its plans based on the feedback received.
The company hopes to open its casino in 2026 following approval by the Chicago Plan Commission and Illinois Gaming Board. The casino would be Bally’s 17th and its largest in the U.S.