Downtown Chicago’s Hotel Development Party Crashed by Alderman Reilly

Rendering of 740 North Rush hotel

Rendering of 740 North Rush hotel. Courtesy of Friedman Properties.

For the past five years or so, developers simply couldn’t jam enough hotels into downtown Chicago.  Every available space within sniffing distance of Michigan Avenue scoped, measured, diagrammed, and investigated for its potential to house a hotel.  Hotels popped up in surface parking lots, replaced empty storefronts, even old apartment buildings got into the act, asking the city to please please please let them convert to a hotel.  They’ll be good.  And they promise to clean up after their guests.

740 North Rush drawing

Rendering : imageFiction

But the nodding bobblehead of city hall approval stopped abruptly today when 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly told Friedman Properties it would not be allowed to stack two hotels 45-stories tall on East Superior Street, right behind Giordano’s Pizza.

Dick Mann from NORR put together a design that had a Hyatt House hotel on the top, and an all-suites Hyatt Place on the bottom of a single tower.  Together they would have 620 rooms, which Mr. Reilly says is just too many rooms.  He sent an e-mail to his constituents explaining his decision:

I did not reach this conclusion quickly. In fact, I met with the development team on several occasions to explore potential changes or other development options to help make the proposal a better fit for this location. Unfortunately, at the end of that process, it became clear that this proposal simply could not proceed.

The problem is parking and traffic.  Some nearby hotels (*cough*Peninsula*cough*) are notorious for clogging up neighborhood streets with illegally double- and triple-parked cars, taxis and limousines.  The developers of the new Rush and Superior hotel promised they wouldn’t clog the streets, but the locals didn’t buy it.

Diagram of 740 North Rush hotel

Diagram of 740 North Rush hotel. Courtesy of Friedman Properties.

The locals really had a field day when they found out that there wouldn’t be any parking in the new tower.  The developers planned to contract with a third party to make all parking valet-style.  A representative of the parking company in question claimed there was plenty of space in his company’s nearby garages.  The neighbors scoffed in two ways.  First, they live there every day and know that many of the rep’s garages are routinely full.  And second, they saw it as a money grab, theorizing that the parking company was happy to have hundreds of new hotel customers in order to drive up rates through increased demand.

An unintended victim of the cancellation of this project may be the Giordano’s Pizza restaurant.  It’s one of the most popular eateries in Chicago with tourists and lines regularly stretch down the block.  The new hotel plan also included a renovation of the restaurant to incorporate an inside waiting area downstairs, and huge new dining room upstairs.  Both of which are desperately needed.

Editor

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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