WEST LOOP — One day after residents raised concerns that a different hotel project could worsen the West Loop’s traffic and parking problems, another hotel proposal at Lake and Halsted is similarly worrying neighbors.
Developers North Park Ventures and MF Development presented plans for a 20-story, 265-foot-tall hotel at 800 W. Lake St. that would bring 476 new hotel rooms to the busy neighborhood at a meeting Wednesday night. The development team is currently in negotiations with the Hyatt and Hilton to operate the hotel, said Matthew Ferrino, principal at MF Development.
Developers aim to raze Paddy O’Fegan’s Irish Pub, Publican Quality Bread, Northwestern Cutlery to make way for the hotel. Under plans, the hotel would include a coffee shop, restaurants and retail on the first two floors and a restaurant and bar on the tower’s 20th floor. No parking will be provided on site, the developers said.
About 187 of the rooms would be micro 160-square-foot hotel rooms for less than $200 a night and about 289 rooms would be traditional 300-350-square-foot rooms that would average $256 a night, Ferrino said.
Ferrino said the proposed hotel would be an affordable option for visitors looking to stay in the West Loop compared to the area’s boutique hotels.
As part of the proposal, the base of the hotel would be split to allow for an internal drop off zone for guests, said Brian Turcza, an associate at GREC Architects.
Traffic would enter from Lake and exit on Halsted, Turcza said.
While one West Loop resident said he welcomes the hotel, other residents said the project would exacerbate the “bottleneck traffic” that already exists in area.
Nearby resident Claudia Chavez wondered how another high-density project would impact the already dense and traffic-plagued neighborhood. Chavez pointed to the construction of a 19-story office tower at 800 W. Fulton and a trio of massive Sterling Bay buildings on Green Street expected to be completed within the next two years.
“Where are the 400 employees going to park? Where are the construction workers going to park?” Chavez asked.
Developers said they plan to offer valet service for guests and anticipate most employees will travel to work via public transportation.
Resident Levar Hoard called for the project to be put on hold until a comprehensive traffic study was conducted to evaluate traffic patterns across the entire neighborhood.
“Halsted is a mess,” Hoard said. “To put a 500-room hotel at Lake and Halsted is asinine. The demand for drop-offs will exacerbate a problem that is already ridiculous. It’s only going to get more ridiculous with the Sterling Bay cluster, and 800 W. Fulton.”
“This is a great project, but it shouldn’t be at Lake and Halted,” he continued.
Other nearby residents called for a no-left-turn sign for cars exiting the property from the alley onto Halsted, and a left-turning traffic light at Halsted and Lake to alleviate traffic at the busy intersection.
After the meeting, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said the developer agreed to pay for a left-turning traffic light at Lake and Halsted.
He said he will also encourage CDOT and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to consider reopening the Halsted “L” stop.
The veteran alderman said he supports the project because it will bring jobs and amenities to the ward. But he will wait to hear from neighborhood groups before officially signing off on the project, he said.
Carla Agostinelli, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization, said the group can not support the hotel project until a comprehensive traffic plan is made.
West Central Association President Armando Chacon also had concerns about traffic.
“We need to spend more time studying [traffic issues]. I’m encouraged by some changes, but we have a lot of work do,” he said.
The developers are seeking a zoning change from C1-1 and C2-5 to a DX-7. The hotel was designed by GREC Architects.
Under the proposal, developers will pay just over $2 million into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus Fund, a program that allows developers to build bigger and taller projects in an expanded Downtown area to support commercial projects in blighted neighborhoods.
If all goes well, construction would start in July 2020 and the hotel would open in April 2022.
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