Prestigious Nobu Hotel Clears Hurdle With (Mostly) Positive Feedback from the West Loop

Drawing of Nobu Hotel

Drawing of Nobu Hotel, courtesy of Centaur Construction

 

Tough crowd, these West Loopers.

Even the prospect of Robert De Niro strolling down the aisle of Mariano’s wasn’t sufficient to convince some residents of the merits of a proposed Nobu Hotel and Restaurant at West Randolph and North Peoria Streets.

 

Drawing of Nobu Hotel

Drawing of Nobu Hotel, courtesy of Centaur Construction

But then, even if Michael Jordan and Mike Ditka presented plans for a 30-story tower west of Halsted, these folks would likely ride them out of town on a Metra train.

Indeed, a handful of naysayers were in attendance at a community meeting Tuesday evening, but they were in the minority. Conservatively, about two-thirds of the packed house at Venue One spoke out favor of the Nobu development.

 

That’s impressive, considering the developers used the dreaded Z word. Yes, a zoning change, to DX-7. That will allow the hotel to reach up into the stratosphere. Well, actually, it will only be 154 feet tall.

 

Diagram of the proposed Nobu Hotel

Diagram of the proposed Nobu Hotel

The 12-story hotel would be the tallest West Randolph building on restaurant row, but it’s only a bit taller than the nine-story maximum of most West Loop buildings. 

A few residents at the meeting worried about parking and traffic headaches. A couple of property owners took the opportunity to use the meeting as a soapbox to grouse about the limitations they’d face under the City’s proposed Randolph Fulton Market District Plan. One tattooed gentleman was mostly concerned about the fate of the Banksy mural on the side of the neighboring building (It will be preserved).

 

42nd Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr.

42nd Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr.

But for the most part, the West Loopers welcomed the hotel with open arms. The small business owners were especially hopeful about the prospect of more foot traffic from affluent travelers.

Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th Ward), opened the meeting by explaining the process: He listens to feedback from residents and various community organizations before rendering his thumbs-up on a new project, but he admitted, “I am pro-development. I’m also on the tourism board so I have a ward view and a city view about the effect of tourism.”

You say tourists might spend more of their money in the West Loop, rather than dining here before scurrying back to the Gold Coast? That’s a welcome prospect here in the hinterlands west of the Kennedy Expressway.

 

Attorney Rolando Acosta

Attorney Rolando Acosta

Rolando Acosta, the attorney representing the developers, explained that this would be the first “ground-up” Nobu hotel/restaurant combination in the world, joining three other hotels in Las Vegas; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, along with 24 restaurants.

“The Nobu folks loved the industrial use of the area,” Acosta said. “It provides a grit you don’t see on Michigan Avenue.”

Acosta also mentioned the proximity to food processors on Lake and Fulton Market would actually offer a symbiotic traffic relationship. Most of the businesses chopping up animal parts close shop at 4 p.m. That’s conveniently well before the prime dinner hour commences on West Randolph.

Architect Chris Guido, of Booth Hansen, described the design, which is essentially industrial chic.

 

Booth Hansen Architect Chris Guido

Booth Hansen Architect Chris Guido

“We always start a project by researching the variety of building and their uses,” Guido said. “That makes it more interesting. West Randolph is unique because it’s so wide. At 155 feet, it’s actually wider than Michigan Avenue and State Street.”

The Nobu design, Guido said, will takes its cues from the brick and large-grid windows common in the West Randolph Fulton Market area.

“It will enhance the warehouse industrial ascetic,” he said. “The outside materials will be structured still and trellises on the second level. It will be compatible with neighboring structures.”

Nobu will benefit the West Loop and the city in other ways, too, Acosta said. Those include the prestige of an international brand, added vitality in the neighborhood, 300 new jobs, and new tax revenue.

Location: 854 West Randolph Street, West Town

Editor’s Note: Below is the press release sent out by Nobu Hotels about its Chicago plans.

Nobu Hotel and Restaurant to Enter the Vibrant and Global City of Chicago

The Nobu Hospitality Group will add the Nobu Hotel and Restaurant Chicago to its growing global Nobu Hotel collection

CHICAGO, March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Acclaimed lifestyle group Nobu Hospitality LLC is proud to announce plans for the development of the luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant Chicago with a leading U.S. real estate development firm. The Nobu Hotel and Restaurant will be located in the vibrant area of the West Loop on the corner of Randolph and Preoria Streets and is planned to open early 2016.

Inspired by the world-renowned Japanese culinary genius Chef Nobu and championed by Academy award-winning actor Robert De Niro and Hollywood producer Meir Teper, the boutique Nobu Hotel will feature 155 luxury rooms, the Nobu Restaurant and a special indoor and outdoor bar. A lounge and venue on the rooftop will deliver a fusion of laid-back luxury, high-energy nightlife and exclusive guest room retreats.

“Chicago’s tourism industry continues to see record growth because renowned venues like Nobu are investing in expanding options for Chicagoans and tourists,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This hotel and restaurant builds on the city’s great hospitality and culinary offerings to further cement Chicago’s role as a world-class city.”

“The City of Chicago is an extremely important destination for Nobu Hospitality and our shareholders Chef Nobu, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper. As one of the key global cities of the world, Chicago is already a magnet for business and leisure travellers offering unique venues for dining, entertainment and enjoyment, and we look forward to embracing the values, the traditions and desires of the people of Chicago,” said Trevor Horwell, Chief Executive of Nobu Hospitality. “We also look forward to be working with the City of Chicago to deliver a unique and special destination for Chicago which reflects our overall growth strategy of expanding with other properties to 24-hour gateway cities, both in the U.S. and internationally.”

The Nobu Hotel Chicago will join the rapidly expanding collection of Nobu Hotels which includes the highly successful Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace Las Vegas which was named as one of the Hottest New Hotels of 2013 by CNN. The Nobu Hotel collection includes other properties in development comprising the Nobu Hotel Eden Roc Miami Beach, the Nobu Hotel City of Dreams Manila, and the Nobu Hotel Riyadh amongst others in development. Nobu was recently named as the one of the world’s top 25 innovative luxury brands by Robb Report.

Shawn Sullivan, Partner and Studio Leader at the Rockwell Group, has been selected as the designer for the project to showcase a design reflecting the needs for all stakeholders and using the core DNA of the Nobu brand infused with an indigenous flair. The Rockwell Group has been the designer of many Nobu projects on a global scale over the last two decades.

About Nobu Hospitality

Recently named one of luxury’s 25 Most Innovative Luxury Brands by Robb Report, Nobu Hospitality is ranked among an elite selection of global luxury hospitality brands. The natural growth of the Nobu luxury brand built on service, image and hospitality, offers the complete spectrum of hotel and restaurant management for unique projects around the world. With operations spanning five continents, the Nobu brand thrives in the world’s capitals as the destination lifestyle experience. The first Nobu Hotel opened in 2013 as a boutique hotel within Caesars Palace Las Vegas and was subsequently named one of the Hottest New Hotels of 2013 by CNN Travel. In 2014, the Nobu Hotel Riyadh and the Nobu Hotel City of Dreams Manila will open followed by the Nobu Hotel Eden Roc Miami Beach amongst other global locations. Nobu is strategically focused on further expanding its global portfolio of Nobu Hotels through a solid development pipeline. www.NobuHospitality.com

 

Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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