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Loyola Plan for Six-Story Hampton Inn Draws Criticism and Support

By Benjamin Woodard | January 21, 2015 6:15am
 Loyola University and a developer has proposed a 145-room Hampton Inn on Sheridan Road.
Loyola University and a developer has proposed a 145-room Hampton Inn on Sheridan Road.
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Atira Hotels

ROGERS PARK — Deja vu on Sheridan Road.

Loyola University's plan to partner with a developer to build a six-story, 145-room hotel near the Loyola "L" station drew some of the same criticisms of Col. Jennifer Pritzker's parking garage that's now nearly complete up the street.

"It's too big and too commercial for this spot," resident Susan Olin said at a community meeting about the plans Tuesday at Loyola. "Everyone I talk to doesn’t think this is the right spot."

The main concerns expressed by critics of the proposed Hampton Inn were about traffic, parking and the claim the hotel would detract from the residential feel of Sheridan and the lakefront.

Olin called the proposed hotel a "corporate 4-plus-1" building — four stories of apartments above a ground floor of exposed parking — that belongs in the suburbs.

But several residents expressed support for the hotel, citing a need for lodging for their visitors.

"It’s adding to the commercial strip," Peter Nicholas said. "It’s right next to the train station. I don’t see the issue. If you were living in the city, wouldn't you want to focus on vitality in your neighborhood?"

Resident Robert Schott, 37, said he has to send visitors to the suburbs, like Skokie or Evanston, to find lodging.

"This is going to be fantastic," he said of the "smart, high-density development."

The news of the development was first reported last month at a small meeting with residents living near the site.

The plans were repeated Tuesday night and were followed with nearly three hours of discussion mostly pertaining to parking and traffic issues.

The university has partnered with Atira Hotels, which intends to build and manage the Hampton Inn, a hotel chain owned by Hilton Worldwide. The first floor would include 10,000 square feet of retail space in about five storefronts owned and managed by Loyola.

The vacant university-owned building that formerly was Carmen's Pizza would be torn down to make way for the development. Work to demolish the building began this week. Loyola officials said Tuesday the university had to tear down the building to test for environmental conditions in the dirt below in order to continue with its proposal.

The building to the south that houses Bruno's would remain. Bruno Roti was in attendance Tuesday.

Atira president Sanjeev Misra said he intends to hire 30-50 employees. A Chicago-based union for hospitality workers attended the meeting, demanding the employees be paid a fair wage.

Misra said 25 percent of the hotel's guests are expected to be from the Loyola community, including students' parents and visiting sports teams.

A covered vehicle turn-around would be inside the building off one-way Albion, which will require part of the street — about a half of a block — to be changed to two-way traffic.

Like Pritzker's parking garage, the hotel would need several concessions from the city and Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who hosted the meeting Tuesday.

First, the Plan Commission would need to approve construction near the lakefront. Moore, a member of the commission, said he would recuse himself from the vote.

Second, the Zoning Board of Appeals would need to approve several special-use permits for on-site loading, accessory parking and for the operation of the hotel.

Atira also intends to request a reduction in the minimum off-street parking, due to the proximity to the "L" station.

Misra said 20 spaces would be available to customers in the lot adjacent to the hotel and more in The Morgan At Loyola Station's parking garage a couple blocks away.

There would be a valet option for guests but none of the parking would be free. Some residents were concerned the hotel's visitors would park on residential streets.

The City Council would also need to approve two-way traffic on Albion up to the alley (about half a block), a loading zone on Albion and use of existing public alley to access the parking lot to the west.

Originally, a left-turn arrow was proposed for northbound Sheridan Road, but Atira officials said the Chicago Department of Transportation reviewed its traffic studies and deemed it unnecessary.

The north side of the building, along Albion, extends six stories to 77 feet, while the east side along Sheridan only extends five stories. Facing the lake, a rooftop terrace and meeting room would overlook the lake and be reserved for private parties, according to plans.

If the project gets the necessary approvals, Atira expects to open the hotel in late summer 2016.

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