City Council committee to vote on Chicago casino plan, which has some neighbors thinking of selling condos and leaving

CHICAGO (CBS) — A big vote is coming Friday morning for Chicago’s planned casino.

However, there is still a push from nearby residents to stop the billon-dollar Bally’s project that is planned for the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center site in River West.

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, some residents of the high-rise buildings in the surrounding area specifically do not like the idea of a casino right in their backyards. One of those people is Natalie Brackensick, who enjoys sunsets from her condo balcony.

“It’s quiet,” Brackensick said. “It’s quiet over here.”

Yet her view and peace – and that of others in her high-rise, could go away with the casino. As it is now, her view from One River Place on the east side of the Chicago River’s North Branch looks right over the Freedom Center to the west.

If the casino plan goes ahead, that would change.

“There will be high-rise – a glass high-rise – basically right in front of my unit here,” she said.

The renderings of the $1.7 billion Bally’s casino – and the push from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to get it all approved – has Brackensick considering moving after eight years.

“I have talked to a realtor about the best time would be to sell, and she basically said before the they break ground,” Brackensick.

The idea of a 24-hour casino directly across the river leaves Brackensick feeling unlucky.

“In my head, I think, I’ve paid property taxes for how many years – and I’ve trusted people to look out for us and look out for our neighborhood,” she said, “and it feels disappointing.”

On Friday, the special City Council committee on the casino meets – and if the plan moves forward, it will then go before the full City Council for a vote.

“Please vote for no. This could happen to your own community,” said Hui Wang. “Don’t rush into a decision.”

Wang and her husband moved into the neighborhood two years ago. While her view won’t be blocked like Brackensick’s, she is just as worried about the negative impact of the casino – such as crime and traffic.

“We didn’t choose further downtown because we wanted to be away from the tourists, and it sounds like this is going to dramatically change the dynamic of our community,” Wang said.

While the city has held townhalls about the casino plan, many in River West say they still feel slighted.

“It’s not that residents are 100 percent opposed – it’s more like there’s little community engagement,” Wang said.

The City Council committee is expected to approve the plans – but residents are holding out hope that there won’t be enough support in the full City Council.

But in the meantime, Terry is told those residents near the casino site are gearing up to lose the peace of their balconies and put their units on the market.

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