Lightfoot Announces Advisory Board to Gather Feedback on Bally’s Casino as Project Moves Forward


CHICAGO (SCS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that she has formed a new advisory council designed to gather community input on the city’s casino plan, as Bally’s moves forward with plans for a temporary casino in River North and a permanent casino in River West.

“From the beginning of the process of securing a Chicago casino, my administration has been committed to ensuring that our residents have every opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns about this,” Lightfoot said in a statement. . “This Community Advisory Board will create a tangible space for this important engagement and enable community stakeholders of all kinds to have a meaningful impact before, during and after the construction of the casino.”

The mayor’s office said the advisory council includes residents and community groups from the neighborhoods surrounding the casino’s permanent site at River West, as well as experts on a range of casino-related topics.

The council will be overseen by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the Mayor’s Office of Community Engagement, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the city’s chief financial officer, Jennie Huang Bennett.

The City Council in May approved Bally’s plan for a $1.7 billion casino project in River West on the site of what currently houses the Chicago Tribune’s press room and print shop. Bally plans to open a temporary casino in the iconic Medina Temple building in River North in the second quarter of 2023, with the permanent River West casino due to open in the first quarter of 2026.

Bally’s provided the city with its initial $40 million payment for the project, and still needs the Illinois Gaming Board to approve its casino plan. Bally’s filed its application with the state board last month, and once it receives its license, the project must also go through the city’s formal planning and zoning approval process.

The advisory board will be responsible for gathering community feedback on the development of the permanent casino project, including any issues regarding the temporary site that also apply to the permanent facility. The mayor’s office said the advisory committee will continue its work throughout the development process until the casino opens.

The group will meet quarterly to discuss issues raised by the community.

Chicago Casino Advisory Board Members:

Neighborhood representatives

  • Maurice Edwards, President, Cabrini-Green Community Corporation LAC
  • Robin Schabes, Resident and Volunteer Chair of the River North Residents Association Development and Land Use Committee
  • Julie Darling, board member of community organization West Loop
  • John Bosca, President Emeritus of Neighbors of River West

Problem Specialists

  • Edward Warm, Chicago Independent Venue League
  • O. Victoria Lakes-Battle, Executive Director – Chicago Metro Area at IFF
  • Jose Bedolla, Board Member, West Central Association
  • Eunice Liao, Mental Health Counselor and Gaming Program Manager at Pui Tak Center
  • Julianna Castro, Financial Assistant, American Indian Health Service of Chicago
  • Darlene Oliver Hightower, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Nilay Mistry, Acting Program Director, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Jonathan Snyder, Executive Director at North Branch Works
  • Nadia Quarles, assistant vice president for corporate diversity at the University of Chicago
  • Phillip Nicodemus, Director of Research at Urban Rivers
  • Marty Padilla, President of the Greater River North Business Association
  • Michele Dreczynski, Program Manager/Near North Unity Program Consultant
  • David Powe, director of planning and technical assistance at the Active Transportation Alliance
  • Andrea Kluger, deputy chief of staff at the Chicago Federation of Labor
  • Chynna Hampton, Director of Equity, Climate Jobs IL, IL AFL CIO


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