Can a Casino be Blue or Green?

Native plants and a public walkway along a stretch of the South Branch of the Chicago River.

On the Reset on WBEZ Radio 91.5 FM (Sept. 6, 2022), Friends’ Executive Director Margaret Frisbie discussed the access and environmental opportunities presented by new casino project planned for River North with host Sasha-Ann Simons and former Chicago Tribune writer Steve Johnson. Johnson reported about the casino development along the North Branch of the river for WBEZ online. 

In Johnson’s story, Frisbie said there was a lot of outrage about a casino on the lakefront and that Friends’ position was the river is not any better of a place for the casino than the lake. “It’s a natural resource. It’s a human resource. It’s a community amenity,” she said “However, if you look at that particular location now, it’s a seawall and a big building. So if that turns into natural habitat and public access, I see that as a win in the long term, in the bigger picture.”

The challenge is to balance the needs between individual river-edge properties and the broader health of the river system, Frisbie noted, as Friends of the Chicago River works to protect the river as a healthy natural corridor and community asset.

Using planning and development tools such as our River-Edge Development Guide, the Habitat Connectivity Action Plan, and the under-development Natural Solutions Tool, Friends works with property owners to ensure that river-edge sites maximize the use of innovative design strategies to help realize our blue-green corridor vision.