Chicago’s Hotel Biz is a Gas Gas Gas

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Thew new hotel at North and Ashland is absolutely not going to be called the Hotel Shell

Who doesn’t love checking into a hotel?  A chance to throw the used towels on the floor with abandon while you rest, recharge, and refuel.  Refuel is the key word in downtown Chicago’s latest hotel project, which will see the Shell gas station on the southeast corner of North and Ashland Avenues turned into a 99-room inn.

In an interview with DNAinfo, Mark Kupiec, the lawyer for the owner of the gas station says his client just can’t make a go of it in this new-fangled world of bicycle commuting and electric cars.  He claims that with more and more Chicagoans adopting a car-free lifestyle, or choosing electric and hybrid cars, owning a gas station isn’t what it used to be.

Is he on to something?  Maybe.  At Aqua, Chicago’s first residential skyscraper built with electric car chargers, the number of electric cars very often outnumbers the available charging stations, which is interesting considering that very few all-electric cars are available for purchase in Illinois. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (who?), Illinois is actually among the top 20 states for electric car purchases.

Regardless of whether you think alternative energy policies are putting America’s gas stations in peril, it can’t be denied that Chicago’s hotel industry is hot.  And unlike other cities where visitors can weigh location versus price, in Chicago virtually every hotel is downtown, so everyone is locked into high prices.  Smaller hotels are starting to capitalize on this discrepancy, like the very popular IHSP Hostel on Damen Avenue in Bucktown, and the coming hotel in the Northwest Tower Building (1608 North Milwaukee Avenue)a couple of blocks away.

While you chew on all that, here’s the firehose:

  • Address: 1551 West North Avenue
  • Address: 1555 North Ashland Avenue
  • Developer: 1551, Inc.
  • For realsies: George Nediyakalayil
  • Architecture firm: Vari Architects
  • Height: 80 feet
  • Floors: 7
  • Rooms: 99
  • Floor space: 62,842 square feet
  • Floor area ratio: 5.0
  • Zoning: C2-5 Motor Vehicle-Related Commercial Zoning District  (proposed)
  • Parking spaces: 50
  • Loading docks: 1

Diagram of hotel proposed for 1551 West North

Location: 1551 West North Avenue, Noble Square


Author: Editor

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

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