The Permit Review Committee from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has approved plans for the temporary casino at Medinah Temple planned by Bally’s Corporation. As part of their winning casino bid, Bally’s will be operating a temporary casino at Medinah Temple until the full-fledged casino is completed at the site of the current Tribune Freedom Center printing plant.
With STL Architects on board for the conversion, the plan looks to renovate the interior while avoiding any building changes to the landmarked exterior. Originally built in 1912 by architects Huel and Schmid, the building was home to the Chicago Shriners and was designed in a Moorish style with extensive ornament that makes it a unique building amongst its surrounding context.
Protected by landmark designation, the exterior will remain unchanged with the exception of new signs replacing the old signs. The current signage from Bloomingdale’s will be removed and replaced with Bally’s signage that matches the same configuration and scale.
On the interior, Bloomingdale’s conversion in 2003 saw the filling in of the original 4,200-seat auditorium to create larger floor plates for the store. Since the proscenium was also protected by the landmark status, it was retained and painted white. With SOSH Architects working on the interior, the casino plan will see the removal of most of the interior partitions to open up the floors to casino gaming. Any new walls and rooms on the top floor would be built below the ceiling to keep the coffered ceilings intact. The architects will follow a similar lighting plan from Bloomingdale’s to achieve a low visual impact and embrace the geometry of the original ceiling coffers.
While operating as a casino, the main entry will be at the center of the building along N. Wabash Ave. Pedestrian exits will be located at the corners along W. Ohio St and W. Ontario St, with an employee entrance on W. Ohio St. A service and loading access point will be along W. Ontario St.
Originally the temporary casino was planned for the waterfront parcel at the northeastern corner of W. Chicago Ave and N. Halsted St across from the final casino location. The switch to Medinah Temple was made because the current W. Chicago Ave bridge and intersection at W. Chicago Ave and N. Halsted St are planned to be reconstructed in 2023. This work would cause massive issues for traffic access and would at times fully cut off access to that site.
With approval from the Permit Review Committee, the architects will be working on the construction documents and submitting for permits early this fall with construction planned to begin after permits are obtained. Bally’s goal is to open the temporary site early in Summer 2023 and it will run for 24 months, with a 12-month extension possible if needed before the full casino site is opened to the public.