It was a packed house at tonight’s meeting hosted by the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, where McHugh Construction’s detailed its plans for a proposed hotel and retail complex at 111 East Cermak Road on Monday evening at Hyatt McCormick Place.
Lead architect Joe Antunovich provided commentary and color, describing the development as “a landmark project in our city.” In fact, the Landmark Commission has already had its say on this one, because part of the plan calls for renovation of the old Rambler showroom on Motor Row. The commission approved.
Antunovich is no stranger to renovation projects. He is, in the words of the development’s attorney, Jack George, “one of the most well-known preservation architects in the city.” And it’s clear Antunovich takes a great deal of pride in the design of this site.
“We’re adding on to the land area that was previously approved [for McHugh],” Antunovich explained. “The Rambler building is being incorporated into this planned development.”
It’s essentially an L-shaped three-piece puzzle bordered by 23rd Street, Indiana Avenue, Cermak Road, and Michigan Avenue. The development will be anchored by a 28-story, 500-room hotel developed in conjunction with First Hospitality Group. The second key piece is a high-tech data center. It will connect to the Rambler building, which will be converted into retail and parking. The Rambler building will also display community art in windows at the ground floor level.
Plans also call for a 3rd floor bridge connection to McCormick place. There will be office space, retail and restaurants at ground level.
“We’re developing a design we think is respectful to the historic makeup of Motor Row,” Antunovich said. “We hope it will spur the development of Motor Row. We’ll match materials and scale of the old buildings. We met with historic preservation over the last four months, every week. They held our feet to the fire. And rightfully so, this is such an important step.”
The data center will include sophisticated sound-absorbent materials and emergency generators (providing three levels of redundancy), Antunovich said. It will also meet all environmental safety requirements.
The entire development is expected to generate nearly 500 construction jobs and another 250 permanent jobs, he said. Pending approvals, construction could begin as early as November on phase one of the project.