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Old Posted May 30, 2020, 3:38 AM
TR Devlin TR Devlin is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Chicago
Posts: 27
Last summer the Sun-Times ran a series of articles by Ed Zotti titled “City at the Crossroads”, including one that talked about proposals for a casino in Chicago. I posted a link to the article at the time and in light of the renewed interest now, I’m posting it again.

Zotti says there are two ways to build a casino: the “island model” and the “London model”.

In the island model,
“the casino and related activity — typically a hotel, restaurants and bars, shops, entertainment venues, other attractions and parking — are designed as a single, self-contained complex. Patrons drive to the casino and don’t leave until they’ve spent their last dime hours later and drive home. They never set foot in the surrounding neighborhood and might as well have been visiting Madagascar. The great majority of U.S. casinos are designed this way ...”
Most of the U.S. urban casinos built in the latter part of the 20th century are island model developments, including the ones shown in Sky88’s post above. Today, many of these are seen as disappointments or failures (Atlantic City, Reno, etc.)

In the London model, the casino is put it in an existing entertainment district and designed so that it contributes to a lively street scene. He gives the London Hippodrome as an example. Here’s a picture.

Zotti also says the Thompson Center "might make a good casino — perhaps a spectacular one." I agree. The Thompson Center is one of the great Chicago buildings built in the past 45 years and I’d be very sad to see it sold and demolished. Repurposed as a casino / entertainment center, it could include hotels, restaurants, shops, cocktail lounges, sports bar, blues bar, theaters, bowling alley, etc. Maybe even a very tall observatory tower. All of this would be done in a way that maximizes interaction between the building and the surrounding downtown area. Wow.

I also think the block surrounded by Illinois, Rush, Hubbard and Wabash would make a fantastic site. I'd tear down the Realtor's building and widen the Plaza of the Americas (but leave 444 No Michigan). The main pedestrian entrance to the casino would be on the east side, facing the Tribune Tower. With hotel and residential above the casino, this would be a very large project; i.e., easily more than $1 billion.

So I don’t understand people who think that One Central or somewhere near the United Center or on Goose Island would be good sites. Despite what suburbanites say, these locations are not downtown. Or the 78. Or the Tribune site at Halsted and Chicago. None of these are good sites.

Finally, Zotti said he was greatly influenced by gaming and hospitality industry experts Andrew Klebanow and Steven Gallaway who co-authored a paper title “Casinos and the City”. This is an interesting overview of casinos in other cities - mostly U.S. - what’s worked well and what hasn’t.

Last edited by TR Devlin; May 30, 2020 at 11:00 PM.
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