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New Hotels The Robey, Hollander Bring 100 Jobs To Wicker Park

By Alisa Hauser | November 18, 2016 6:03am
 Staff members are making final touches to The Robey and working around the clock in advance of the hotel's Nov. 30 opening.
The Robey Staffers And Sneak Peek, Nov. 17, 2016
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WICKER PARK —  Set to open on Nov. 30, The Robey and The Hollander — a pair of neighboring boutique hotels at Wicker Park and Bucktown's Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection — have created more than 100 part- and full-time jobs, their operator said.

"We hope this number continues to grow," said Carlos Couturier, managing partner of Grupo Habita, the Mexico-based hotel chain that operates the Wicker Park/Bucktown hotels at 2018 W. North Ave. and 2022 W. North Ave.

Couturier, who recently moved to Bucktown, said many of the workers live in the neighborhood or surrounding areas.

Katie Katsaropoulos, a Logan Square resident, works at the reception desk.

 Katie Katsaropoulos at the front desk of The Robey.
Katie Katsaropoulos at the front desk of The Robey.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Sergio Campos, the hotel's food and beverage director, recently moved from River North to Wicker Park so he can walk to work.

Hannah Tyrrell, the events director who is responsible for booking parties and large gatherings, lives in Bucktown.

And for those who do not work in the hotel but work from home or in surrounding businesses, Couturier said he is hoping they will frequent the "Cafe Robey Upstairs," a lounge on the second floor of The Robey overlooking the Milwaukee, Damen and North intersection.

With ample couches and chairs, along with free WiFi, the lounge is "a meeting place," Couturier said.

"We want to be perceived as a positive addition to the neighborhood. It's not just about architecture and design, it's about bringing something new that the community can embrace," Couturier said.

When Grupo Habita, which operates hotels in Mexico and New York City, was considering expanding to Chicago, Couturier said he and the three other managing partners, brothers Moises, Rafael and Jaime Micha, toured several sites but the search ended inside the Northwest Tower.

"This was perfect. This was it. It looked and felt authentic and we could be pioneers here," Couturier recalled of the introduction to the tower and adjacent warehouse by David Nelson from Convexity Properties. 

Convexity Properties, the hotel's developer, worked with Pepper Construction and a small army of contractors over nearly three years to redevelop the buildings. They first shared their vision for turning the former office building into a hotel in October 2013. In March 2014, Grupo Habita announced that it would be the operator.

Grupo Habita worked with different interior design teams on The Robey, a 69-room hotel inside the 12-story art deco Northwest Tower and the 20-room "shared stay" hostel, The Hollander, next door.

"We decided we needed something ageless for this Landmark building. We went back to the 1930s and were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and Edward Hopper," Couturier said.

So far, rooms are booking up for December, Couturier said.

"Everyone loves data [on occupancies] but you can't compare this to anywhere in Chicago. We will start something new.  We like to be pioneers. It's taking a risk," Couturier said.

Carlos Couturier, managing partner of Grupo Habita in the "Panorama Suite" on The Robey's 12th floor. [Photos by DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

Table in the "Panorama Suite" on the 12th floor of The Robey.

Marble staircase in The Robey lobby.

Sink in the bathroom of the Panorama Suite on the 12th floor of The Robey.

View from the 12th floor of The Robey.

Carlos Couturier on the rooftop deck at The Robey.

Training meeting in Cafe Robey.

Table in Cafe Robey.

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