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Hampton Inn Replacing Inn at Lincoln Park Lacks Character, Neighbors Say

By Mina Bloom | October 1, 2015 5:43am
 A rendering of the building presented at a community meeting last year.
A rendering of the building presented at a community meeting last year.
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LINCOLN PARK — Revised plans to tear down The Inn at Lincoln Park and build a Hampton Inn in its place were met with opposition from some neighbors, who believe the contemporary design won't match the character of the neighborhood.

The company that owns the property at 601 W. Diversey Pkwy., LVM Group, presented the new proposal to about three dozen residents Tuesday evening in the hopes of ultimately getting zoning approval from Ald. Michele Smith (43rd). 

LVM Group's attorney, Rolando Acosta, outlined the plans, which call for a nine-story contemporary hotel with ground-level retail, including a corner restaurant and 143 hotel rooms. The plan presented Tuesday also called for 75 parking spaces, which is 23 more than originally proposed. 

The retailers and restaurant have yet to be determined, Acosta said.

A rendering of the modern hotel, presented to the community Tuesday evening. [DNAinfo/Mina Bloom]

The developer added a loading zone mechanism to the rear of the building and redesigned the facade, including the retail base, to make it "much lighter in appearance," according to project's architect Jackie Koo of Koo Architecture.

Some residents at the meeting raised concerns about the hotel's modern design, which echoed comments made by preservationist Ward Miller at a meeting last year.

Under the new proposal, the parking garage facade would be made with sand-blasted glass, which would create a lightly glowing and "ethereal look," according to Koo. It would make the top of the building, constructed with either a cement composite called "Swisspearl" or made of metal, appear to be floating.

But residents at Tuesday's meeting said they had some concerns about the overall vibe of the design.

"I so appreciate the building wanting to redevelop and wanting to invest," said Karen Goozner. "But is it possible to try and capture some of the architectural feeling so we're not just [getting] a flat facade with glass? We have all of this old brick and stone in the neighborhood."

That opinion was shared by resident Michael Bloom, who told DNAinfo Chicago the developer was missing an opportunity to build a more architecturally pleasing hotel after the meeting.

"A lot of the people feel like the aesthetic doesn't match the charm of the neighborhood. It doesn't quite fit," another resident said during the meeting.

In response, Acosta said the contemporary design was deliberate to "signal that there's something new here."

"You can design a building to be many different styles. We wanted to signal something new, something of this period, as opposed to try to mirror other styles."

He also said the Hampton Inn brand typically uses faux traditional architecture, but the Lincoln Park proposal is more nuanced because of the "uniqueness of the location."

Similarly, several neighbors thought the red Hampton Inn sign looked cheap. But Acosta said one sign is a great compromise, considering Hampton Inn would prefer to advertise more. The exact location and style of the sign has yet to be determined, Koo said.

The hotel's entrance would be on Lehmann Court, which worried some neighbors who weren't in favor of cars exiting the parking garage and making what they believe is a dangerous left turn on the street. 

However, Acosta said traffic engineers have studied the turn and determined that is "makeable."

"We've determined that this is the best location. It doesn't mean that everyone's going to see it that way," he said.

Acosta said the developer is doing everything possible to make traffic move north to alleviate potential congestion south on Lehmann Court.

Despite the added floor of parking, the developer doesn't expect the hotel to bring a lot more cars to the area because many hotel guests take public transportation or cabs, Acosta said.

If it turns out the developer doesn't use some of the spaces, Acosta said it would consider letting neighbors use the spaces at a hourly or monthly rate.

Built in 1918, The Inn at Lincoln Park lacks most modern amenities such as a fitness center, pool and meeting rooms. The new Hampton Inn would have a rooftop pool, a green roof and a modern storm water system, among other amenities.

This isn't the first time LVM Group has tried to build a replacement hotel. In 2004, the property owner was looking to build a much taller hotel, but it went by the wayside due to the recession.

Smith said she will continue to take input from members of the Park West Community Association and other neighbors before zoning approval is granted.

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