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Northwest Tower Boutique Hotel FINALLY Has A Name

By Alisa Hauser | June 8, 2016 8:16am | Updated on June 8, 2016 9:18am
 The Robey flag above the Northwest Tower hotel.
The Robey flag above the Northwest Tower hotel.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — The long-anticipated Northwest Tower boutique hotel that's been under construction at Wicker Park and Bucktown's main hub for the past two years finally has a name: The Robey.

On Tuesday, a custom "Robey red" flag with white lettering declaring the name of the 89-room hotel appeared atop the 12-story art deco skyscraper that towers over the Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenue intersection.

The Northwest Tower is considered to be one of Wicker Park's most iconic buildings.

A spokesman for the project confirmed that The Robey Chicago is the name of the hotel, which will be operated by Mexico-based chain Grupo Habita.

The hospitality complex, which will include two restaurants, a bar, a swimming pool and other amenities along with three retail storefronts, is on track to open sometime before the end of this year, the spokesman said.

 View of The Robey from North Avenue looking east.
View of The Robey from North Avenue looking east.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Robey was once the name for Damen Avenue during the 1890s, but it was changed to Damen in 1927, according to reports. The street may have been named after James Robey, who operated a roadhouse around Madison Street and present-day Damen from 1861 to 1863. Damen is named after the Rev. Arnold Damen who founded St. Ignatius High School and Loyola University in 1870.

Next week, floor-to-ceiling windows with replicated cast aluminum are scheduled to be installed on the ground floor of the hotel, the spokesman said.

Construction on the approximately $22.2 million project began in 2014.

The bulk of The Robey's rooms — 69 total, about seven per floor — are in the tower at 1600 N. Milwaukee Ave. that was formerly a vintage office building.

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

In April, the complex's first retail tenant, a Sprint store, opened at 1624 N. Milwaukee Ave., next to another not-yet-leased storefront at 1620 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.

A boutique retail chain making its first appearance in Chicago has been tapped to anchor the Hollander Fireproof Warehouse at 1618 N. Milwaukee Ave. but had not yet been announced yet.

The hotel's target completion date has been moved back several 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 last spring. 

Onsite early Wednesday, an electrician on site called the rooms "very cool" and that in some rooms, the showers overlook the intersection but have blinds in the stalls for privacy. 

"It looks retro, but with modern features like controlled lighting and electronic shades. There's wood floors, it's very old looking. I would stay there," the electrician said.

Scott Novack, a Wicker Park resident who lives a few doors north of the tower, has been closely tracking the developments.

Novack said he likes the name, The Robey.

"The name indicates the history of the neighborhood and its significant location is not lost on the operators. Combined with the pristine renovation, it appears the building/location is making its mark on the flag rather than vice versa. Very exciting!" Novack wrote in an email.

Southern Milwaukee Avenue view of The Robey. [Photos by DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

View from the 10th Floor of The Robey.

The hotel, under construction in summer 2015.

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