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Northwest Tower: Hotel Pushed to Spring 2016, Underground Parking Nixed

By Alisa Hauser | October 22, 2014 9:54am | Updated on October 22, 2014 10:08am
 Plans are underway to convert the Northwest Tower at 1600 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park into a boutique hotel.
Plans are underway to convert the Northwest Tower at 1600 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park into a boutique hotel.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — The conversion of an iconic tower at Wicker Park's main intersection into a 93-room boutique hotel is taking longer than planned and building an underground parking garage is no longer feasible, the project's developer said on Tuesday.

"We continue to make great progress and at this point we are targeting a completion date sometime in the spring of 2016, but that date is dependent on many things going our way," said Evan Meister, a real estate analyst for Convexity Properties, the developers who are leading the Northwest Tower hotel project. 

Previously, the plan was to have the hotel ready for occupancy by summer of 2015.

At the Wicker Park Committee's preservation and development meeting on Wednesday, Meister provided a series of updates about the properties at 1600-1626 N. Milwaukee Ave. The centerpiece is a 12-story art deco skyscraper that towers over the Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenue intersection.

The Northwest Tower at 1600 N. Milwaukee Ave. was built in 1928 and is considered to be one of Wicker Park's most iconic buildings.

Though Convexity was not required to provide any parking spaces as part of the project, the initial plan was to offer an underground parking garage for up to 30 cars.

The decision to nix the underground parking garage was driven by two factors: cost and potential risk, Meister said.

A structural engineer advised the developers to not build all the way up to its property line, which would mean there would be less space for the underground garage. A smaller garage wouldn't be economically feasible, Meister said. 

Currently there will be four dedicated parking spots in the rear of one of the buildings, that, if used as a valet, can accommodate up to eight cars, Meister said.

Acknowledging that the limited parking is not ideal, Meister said the firm is actively looking to acquire other parking spaces in the area.

Meister also said the number of rooms were scaled back and will be fewer than the maximum of 120 that the city allowed under the firm's Planned Development application.

"We were always hovering around 100 rooms but needed to eliminate some," Meister said.

The tower will offer a total of 68 rooms, with seven per floor over 10 floors, with the exception of the 12th  and 2nd floors, which will offer six rooms. 

Two larger suites will be available on the 12th and 6th floors.

The rooms will range in size from 200 to 350 square-feet and cost between $150 and $170 per night.

The bulk of the hotel's other 25 rooms, larger accommodations called "shared rooms" geared toward families, will be inside the 27,000-square-foot Hollander Fireproof Warehouse building at 1618 N. Milwaukee Ave. and a not-yet-constructed two-story building next to the warehouse.

The new two-story building will offer retail on the first floor and five rooms on the second floor, as well as a private event space.

Meanwhile, for folks hoping for more safety improvements near the concrete barricade and walkway that has narrowed a lane of traffic in front of the building, Meister said that more "No Parking" signs are scheduled to go up soon along the northern side of Milwaukee Avenue.

Additionally, the curb will be painted bright yellow in the next seven days to further caution folks not to park on the street.

"Safety at the intersection of Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues is a top priority and we continue to monitor the intersection proactively along with the city," Meister said.

Meister said cars are continuing to park on the north side of Milwaukee Avenue next to Walgreens, despite the 'No Parking' signs that were posted by the City.

"We will not be removing any additional parking from the street. We will simply add signs to enhance the visibility of the 'No Parking' zone so motorists understand that it is not safe to park in these areas. We understand that our construction barricades may be an inconvenience to some neighbors and businesses and we appreciate their patience during construction," Meister said.

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