WICKER PARK — You'd be best off avoiding the main hub of Wicker Park Monday, as one lane of Milwaukee Avenue near the busy intersection has closed to traffic, creating delays and gridlock at the six-corner intersection.
Milwaukee Avenue north and southbound traffic around 8:45 a.m. Monday. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
A southbound lane of Milwaukee Avenue closed at 7 a.m. Monday and is expected to reopen by 5 p.m. a spokesman for the Northwest Tower — a 12-story art deco skyscraper that's being converted into a boutique hotel — said.
The closure started 75 feet north of the white line at the Milwaukee and North avenues intersection and extends approximately 150 feet to the Bucktown/Wicker Park Jewish center, at 1630 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Four workers with flags were observed controlling traffic.
The closure is necessary so that steel for an elevator overrun that will enclose elevator shafts can be hoisted to the top of the tower, which is the centerpiece of a boutique hotel and restaurant complex at 1600-1626 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The spokesman said that it is possible the traffic lane could reopen before 5 p.m. Monday if the work is done earlier.
Set to open by mid-2016, pushed back 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 the 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 five-story Hollander Fireproof Warehouse at 1618 N. Milwaukee Ave, adjacent to the tower.
The Northwest Tower was built in 1928 and is considered to be one of Wicker Park's most iconic buildings.
Cyclist Joseph Kelley was among those headed to work Monday in Wicker Park. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
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