Real Estate Developers Planning Billion-Dollar Housing Development Near Bally’s Permanent Facility

Written By T.J. McBride on June 3, 2024
Chicago riverfront where developers are preparing to build around new Bally's Chicago location.

The future home of Bally’s Chicago in the River West neighborhood is getting more than just gamblers and operators excited.

Developers are looking to get ahead of the curve and put their stamp on the area surrounding the Freedom Center where Bally’s Chicago will stand. Building out infrastructure to accompany the new casino could generate significant revenue.

Bally’s Chicago has been growing steadily while operating out of its temporary facility. Opening its permanent home should allow it to grab even more Illinois casino market share.

Which developers have sights on space around Freedom Center?

There are a couple of developers taking action, but one has more irons in the fire than the other.

The developer putting the most effort toward the area around Bally’s Chicago is Canada-based Onni Group. It plans to add a riverfront development near the casino while it works on another large housing development north of the riverfront property.

The riverfront project is being called Halsted Landing and is expected to cost $1.1 billion. The current plans include 2,500 apartments spread across four towers. In addition to the living spaces, there are plans for a large green space, an amphitheater, retail shops, and a water taxi stop.

Construction would be carried out in three phases, but only the first phase has been detailed. It includes two residential towers, which would create 688 apartments. Of those, 190 would be considered affordable units. There would also be a public elevator to reach the riverwalk.

The project would contribute $17.8 million to the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which helps finance commercial and cultural projects in underserved neighborhoods.

Onni Group is already working on Halsted Pointe, which sits north of where Halsted Landing is being planned. It will include five towers that will house 2,650 apartments and a hotel with 300 rooms. The plans also call for 100,000 square feet of green space, and the total development is set to span 2.7 million square feet. The project began last year.

Separate from the Onni Group’s plans, another developer, Shapack Partners, is attempting to get approval to build its own facility, which would have 2,200 apartments and a 141-room hotel, near Bally’s Chicago. The development also would include retail shopping and restaurants.

What would these developments include, and when might they be completed?

These plans all sound ambitious, but none will be completed in this decade.

Onni Group’s Halsted Landing project has not yet been approved, which puts its legitimacy in question. The Chicago Plan Commission discussed the proposal at a recent meeting and deferred the matter. Without the commission’s approval, no work can begin.

If Halstead Landing is approved, construction will begin in 2029 and be completed by 2037.

While its estimated completion date is not quite as far out, Halsted Pointe is not expected to be finished until 2031. No completion date has been disclosed for Shapack Partners’ proposed development.

All these projects indirectly rely on Bally’s Chicago to open its permanent home and begin bringing tourists and foot traffic to the area. Bally’s Chicago is expected to open in its new facility in 2026 but has had unforeseen complications pop up, such as discovering foundation issues at the site of its future hotel that required the initial plans to be changed.

According to Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim, the casino’s construction remains on schedule despite these hiccups.

“There’s no delay as long as we’re building the 100 [hotel] rooms somewhere. And the easiest place to build 100 rooms is on top of the existing structure versus trying to lay out new structures. The whole point of this minor change is so there’s no delay.”

Photo by Nam Y. Huh / AP Images
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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