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New Wicker Park Boutique Hotel Will Include Second Restaurant Next to Pool

By Alisa Hauser | August 26, 2015 5:51pm | Updated on August 26, 2015 6:33pm
 Images of the Northwest Tower in Wicker Park.
Images of the Northwest Tower in Wicker Park.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK —  The developers of a vintage office building that has towered over Wicker Park's main hub for almost a century have cleared another hurdle by getting their interior building plans approved by the city to move the boutique hotel project forward.

Set to open by mid-2016, up from the last published estimate of spring 2016, the still unnamed hotel, to be operated by Mexico-based Grupo Habita, will offer 89 rooms. The bulk of the rooms — 69, or about seven per floor — are in an iconic tower at 1600 N. Milwaukee Ave at the northwest corner of the Milwaukee, North and Damen avenues intersection.

Another 20 rooms will be in the 5-story Hollander Fireproof Warehouse at 1618 N. Milwaukee Ave, adjacent to the tower. 

Guest amenities will include a swimming pool on the roof of the warehouse and, on the top of the tower, an enclosed bar with an outdoor patio that will be open to the public.

A restaurant and lounge are on tap for the tower's first two floors and would be open to the public. On Wednesday, officials also said that an enclosed area adjacent to the pool on the top of the warehouse would also have a restaurant and a bar open to guests and non-guests.

The lower lounge in the tower would offer a place to drink coffee and use Wi-Fi with "nice big windows just above the intersection," the developer told a neighborhood group back in 2013.

A permit, issued Friday, gives a green light for constructing a connection between the tower and warehouse. The roofs of all three structures will feature a combined 6,221-square-foot green roof area, according to the permit.

The plans also call for a new one-story retail space at the site's northern end, likely to house the relocated Sprint store, which moved out of the tower's base a few months ago. The retail area will host  three retail tenants.

When the city gave tax relief incentives to the project in 2014, the total renovation cost was estimated to be $22 million.

A venture backed by Don Wilson and AJ Capital bought the tower for $12.5 million in 2012. Convexity Properties, the real estate and management arm of Wilson's firm DRW Holdings, is leading the renovation project that is also overseen by the city Commission on Chicago Landmarks.  

After plans to build an underground parking garage were scrapped earlier this year, the developer confirmed that only three dedicated parking spots would be on-site and that the firm is looking to find other parking options near the hotel.

A spokesman from Convexity did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday on whether other parking spaces have been secured.

Grupo Habita operates 14 hotels in Mexico as well as the Hotel Americano in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood. The New York hotel opened in 2011 and is the firm's largest hotel, with 56 rooms.

An executive with Grupo Habita declined to share renderings of the hotel, preferring to wait closer to an opening date.

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