WICKER PARK — As construction on the Northwest Tower boutique hotel continues, the complex's first retail tenant, a Sprint store, will open Wednesday at 1624 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Housed at the base of the tower for more than a decade, Sprint was forced to move across the street last May because of construction. Sprint will be the northernmost tenant in the Northwest Tower hotel complex, offering optimists a sign that the planned 89-room boutique hotel from Mexico-based chain Grupo Habita will open by year's end.
On Sunday, Sprint store manager Erika Pojas and her team were packing up the storefront at 1625 N. Milwaukee Ave.
"We like the coziness of this place but are excited for the new space," Pojas said.
Pojas said there will likely be some "grand opening specials" to announce the new spot, which will stay open one hour later on Sundays.
Sprint's former storefront at the base of the tower is set to become a hotel restaurant. Next to that eatery, a retailer on the ground floor of the Hollander Fireproof Warehouse has been secured, a hotel spokesman said.
The completion target date has been moved back a few times during the effort to transform the 88-year-old building into a modern hotel. In October of 2014, company officials estimated it would be ready by this spring.
The still-unnamed hotel will offer 89 rooms with the bulk of the rooms — 69, or about seven per floor — in the 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 five-story Hollander Fireproof Warehouse at 1618 N. Milwaukee Ave, next to the tower.
Over the weekend, new basketball-inspired street art appeared at the base of the tower, where a faded Sprint logo serves as a reminder of the store's former location.
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