Chicago’s hotel boom isn’t just taking place downtown. Throughout the city’s neighborhoods, new hotels are popping up in new buildings and historic spaces—beckoning visitors to experience the city like a local.
In downtown Chicago, construction on new hotels is booming. Though this construction is visible—scaffolding as steel webbing on the sides of buildings and providing cover over sidewalks like urban canopies—it is somehow less felt. Meanwhile, traffic at the six-corner intersection of Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues feels endless. Every so often, car, bike and pedestrian traffic is placed at a standstill to accommodate trucks entering or leaving a temporary alleyway that winds its way around the Coyote Building, a domineering structure that is currently being transformed into a greatly anticipated new hotel.
It’s easy to overlook the growing neighborhood hotel movement. Yet in August, 2015, at our Design Dialogues: Downtown Hotel Boom event, Cindy Chan Roubik, Preservation Architect at the City of Chicago Historic Preservation Division, noted that neighborhoods will be exactly where we will see the next explosion of luxury temporary living for Chicago’s tourists and business travelers.
Here are three projects that tell the story of the neighborhood hotel trend.
Northwest Tower (Coyote Building), Wicker Park
This 12-story Art Deco building at the Wicker Park six-corner intersection has been in transition since 2013. Grupo Habita, a Mexico City-based firm, has weathered tremendous challenges. Originally slated to open in the summer of 2015, the hotel will now open in spring 2016. Rather than a proposed 100 rooms, it will offer 93. The first floor will remain dedicated to retail, while the next five floors above will become event spaces.
Another change revealed in early 2015 was reduced parking: Originally, the hotel planned for underground parking spaces. Due to costs and safety, however, the hotel will offer only above-ground parking.
Overall, the northwest communities of Bucktown and Wicker Park seem excited to see how business will fare at this iconic intersection. With immediate access to the CTA Blue Line from O’Hare to downtown, this hotel has huge potential to become a major staple for business travelers and tourists alike—all with the comfort and charm of neighborhood living (even if it’s temporary).
The Guesthouse Hotel, Andersonville
Located in the Andersonville neighborhood, the Guesthouse Hotel has a rags-to-riches story. Or, more accurately, a tale of recession-to-success. In its first life as high-end condominiums, the building didn’t find a buyer. As a result, property developer Dave Krug began temporarily renting out the individual units as vacation homes. This is when he saw the potential for the building to become a functioning hotel.
The Guesthouse Hotel officially opened in 2014. It offers one to three bedroom units, a rooftop space, a club and a fitness center. There’s also a library and a small retail shop.
Simona Krug, the wife and business partner of Dave Krug, told DNAinfo in 2014, “I think it's stimulating for our guests to be here as opposed to the Loop or River North where they're going to get more of a tourist experience. Whereas here they're going to get more of an experience of what it's like to live in Chicago, because Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and Andersonville is a very cool neighborhood.”
Ace Hotel, Fulton Market District
One of the city’s most talked-about upcoming hotels is the Ace Hotel. It has staked a claim to the former industrial building at 311 N. Morgan Street. Sterling Bay, a company that has acquired several properties in the rapidly-developing Fulton Market District, purchased the property in 2013. Though a timeline has yet to be announced, Sterling Bay is seeking to rezone the building, which is currently zoned in a Planned Manufacturing District (PMD). Hotels are technically not allowed in PMDs, so the project will need to gain the approval of local officials before proceeding.
Ace Hotel, based in Portland, Oregon, plans to build a tower on the site to accommodate greater capacity. The hotel is a part of the booming West Loop, which has seen rapid growth in restaurants and other service-based companies—including the acclaimed SoHo House hotel. With the neighborhood’s landmark status designation passing through city council in July 2015, we’re bound to see more hospitality projects like this in the future.