McCormick Place Lakeside Center eyed for Chicago casino in one of two Bluhm-backed bids

McCormick Place’s Lakeside Heart would change into the “gem” of a south lakefront leisure district underneath a proposal to rework the 50-year-old construction into Chicago’s mega-casino.

A gaggle of builders who’re already behind a $4 billion redevelopment of the previous Michael Reese Hospital web site close to Bronzeville stated Wednesday they’re able to go all in with one other billion-dollar funding to show the “iconic” however “sparsely used” conference house into an “leisure mecca.”

“For years, we’ve been speaking about how can we revitalize this factor, even manner, manner, manner earlier than the on line casino was within the lexicon right here,” stated Scott Goodman, founding principal of Farpoint Growth. “Bringing increasingly more individuals to the lakefront has all the time been a objective of ours, and we predict that is one thing that may assist do this.”

Goodman’s agency is partnered with McLaurin Growth and the nonprofit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives on the Lakeside Heart proposal, which was one in every of 5 bids submitted to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s workplace final week to launch the big-city on line casino that officers and builders alike have coveted for many years.

The builders say minority traders can have a 25% possession stake.

Additionally in on the Lakeside Heart proposal is billionaire on line casino mogul Neil Bluhm and his Rush Avenue Gaming firm, which already runs Illinois’ most profitable on line casino — Rivers On line casino in Des Plaines — and which is hedging bets with totally different companions on a separate on line casino bid at one other South Loop web site.

“Clearly, [Bluhm’s] received competing pursuits as a result of he’s in two bids, however we’re very assured in our bid,” Goodman stated. “We predict that with all objectivity, we examine as many bins as are able to being checked.”

Their Lakeside plan requires “vital capital enhancements” to the ageing facility, which has solely hosted a handful of enormous reveals over the previous few years, however has the “good” dimensions for a on line casino, Goodman stated.

The McCormick Place Lakeside Heart.
Solar-Occasions file

The so-called Rivers Chicago McCormick would come with indoor and outside leisure areas plus bars and eating places, as a part of a roughly $1 billion plan that will create a “large residual domino impact” of financial progress for the Cermak Highway district close to McCormick Place, developer Zeb McLaurin stated.

The group stated they’d add about 2,000 parking spots throughout the constructing, which is simply south of Soldier Subject. Whether or not the Chicago Bears keep there or take their flirtation with Arlington Heights to the following stage with a suburban stadium “doesn’t have any impact on us a technique or one other,” Goodman stated.

“We’d love for them to remain,” stated Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives president David Doig, who beforehand served because the Chicago Park District superintendent underneath former Mayor Richard M. Daley on the time of the stadium’s controversial overhaul in 2002.

David Doig, president of the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, pictured in September.

David Doig, president of the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, pictured in September.
Pat Nabong/Solar-Occasions

Goodman stated they’d search a “very long-term floor lease” lease for the Lakeside Heart property from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns McCormick Place.

The large conference middle, lengthy floated as a viable on line casino web site, is focused in two of the 5 on line casino proposals submitted to Lightfoot’s workplace. Rhode Island-based Bally’s Company put in a bid centered on the truck marshaling yard south of McCormick Place, calling for $1.6 billion investments that embody a luxurious resort, indoor and outside leisure middle, inexperienced house and positive eating.

A spokeswoman for the MPEA, a public-private partnership, stated officers there haven’t but “mentioned any phrases of use for our campus properties in relation to a proposed on line casino.”

Bally’s additionally submitted an alternate bid proposing to interrupt floor on the Chicago Tribune printing plant web site close to Chicago Avenue and Halsted Avenue.

Bluhm’s second hand within the Chicago on line casino recreation is a partnership with growth agency Associated Midwest as Rivers 78 Gaming LLC. That proposal goals to interrupt floor throughout the 62 vacant South Loop acres close to Roosevelt Highway and Clark Avenue. Specifics on that proposal have but to be introduced.

Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, pictured in March 2020.

Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rivers On line casino in Des Plaines, pictured in March 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Solar-Occasions

Rush Avenue Gaming CEO Greg Carlin stated in a press release by way of a spokesman that Bluhm’s firm “is providing town two distinct choices on two excellent websites, with two nice native growth groups, which benefit from our experience creating from the bottom up and working a few of the most profitable casinos in North America.”

The fifth Chicago on line casino bid comes from Florida-based playing big Arduous Rock Worldwide, which recognized its chosen web site as the proposed One Central growth that will sit simply throughout Dusable Lake Shore Drive from Soldier Subject. Representatives didn’t return requests for remark.

Lightfoot’s workplace has stated it’ll create “a assessment committee made up of a cross-section of Metropolis departments” to advocate a bidder. Lightfoot can have the ultimate name on which is put up for Metropolis Council approval. The Illinois Gaming Board has the ultimate say on issuing a license.

The mayor has stated she expects the completed casino-resort to open by 2025.

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