CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is giving potential bidders an extra two months to submit formal plans for building a Chicago casino, just weeks before the original deadline.
The city originally gave potential casino operators until Aug. 23 to submit bids for the casino project, but on Friday the mayor’s office said that deadline is being pushed back to Oct. 29.
“This extension gives potential bidders more time to fully assess the Chicago casino opportunity; conduct additional due diligence; assemble more competitive bid packages; and explore financing opportunities,” the mayor’s office said in a press release.
Last year, in response to a city request for information from potential bidders interested in building and operating the casino, 8 of the 11 groups that responded said the casino should be built in or near downtown. One company favored a site near the Harborside golf course alongside Lake Calumet on the Southeast Side. Two others did not state a preference.
However, according to published reports, the city has struggled to attract formal bids for the casino, with some major casino operators declining to get involved; and local companies who have expressed interest have close ties to Lightfoot, which could put the mayor in a potentially awkward position if they were the only bidders.
Crain’s Chicago Business reports three other companies recently expressed interest in bidding, but need more time to finalize their proposals.
Once bidders submit their plans, applicants will make public presentations on their plans, followed by a series of community meetings before the mayor will choose from among the proposals. The plan would have to be approved by the City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board.
“This historic casino project stands to expand the economic vibrancy and strength of our city by bringing sustainable, good-paying jobs to residents from underrepresented backgrounds and creating a world-class casino-resort that attracts visitors from all over,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Extending the deadline for interested bidders will allow the City to collect as many robust, impactful and transformative proposals as possible. I look forward to seeing these bids roll in and working very closely with whichever team is ultimately chosen to develop Chicago’s first-ever casino.”
The mayor’s office has said any plans for a Chicago casino-resort must include a hotel with as many as 500 rooms, meeting space, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.
The chosen casino operator also would be authorized to build a temporary gambling operation while the permanent facility is being built. They could also install slot machines at O’Hare and Midway airports before the permanent casino is up and running.
The city expects the permanent casino will be open by 2025. Tax revenue from the casino would be dedicated to the city’s underfunded police and fire pension funds.
Other requirements for bidders include:
- 26% minority business enterprise (MBE) participation, 6% women business enterprise (WBE) participation and Chicago-based businesses in the design and construction of the project.
- 50% of total work hours by City residents and 7.5% of total work hours by residents of the area surrounding the project in the construction of the project.
- Hiring of employees at the project to assist in building wealth in disadvantaged communities, prioritizing hiring of City residents and achieve a diverse workforce reflecting the overall diversity of the City.
- Sourcing goods and services during operation of the project to assist in building wealth in disadvantaged communities, prioritizing City-based businesses and maximizing high levels of contracting with MBE and WBE providers and substantial levels of contracting with veteran-owned businesses and businesses owned by persons with a disability.
Applicants may submit written questions about bidding for the casino to ChicagoCasino@taftlaw.com by 5pm on Friday, October 1, 2021, and the subject line must state, “City of Chicago, RFP Question(s).”
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August 6, 2021 at 03:33PM