WICKER PARK — The Robey and The Hollander, two boutique hotels in Wicker Park's main hub, opened on Wednesday after more than three years of anticipation. The ventures from Mexico-based hoteliers Grupo Habita have brought more than 100 new jobs to the neighborhood.
The 12-story art deco Northwest Tower, site of the 69-room Robey, 2018 W. North Ave., was designed as an office building by the architectural firm of Perkins, Chatten and Hammond in 1929.
The "Up & Up," a bar and lounge on the roof of The Robey, offers dramatic skyline views.
Cafe Robey, a bistro on the ground floor, has replaced a Sprint wireless store, which relocated a few doors north of the tower.
Developer Convexity Properties were responsible for the transformation of the vintage office building into a hotel.
Susan Dinko owned the office building from 1995 to 2007 and stayed on as the property's manager until 2014. Dinko said that the neighborhood has gone through a “rebirth” with the reopening of the tower as a hotel.
"The Northwest Tower is the mother ship of two communities, Wicker Park and Bucktown. The newly renovated building now guides residence, business, tourists to the now world renowned communities," Dinko said.
Dinko said the tower needed an overhaul.
"I'm glad to see the hotel plan finally having come to fruition. There are a lot of people who had offices there and have great memories. They put up with the quirks. There is not one person who walked through the door who did not love the building," Dinko said.
Work on the exterior restoration of the tower began in April 2014. Most of the office building tenants, including software developers and consultants, moved out in 2013.
The hospitality, dining and retail complex also includes The Hollander, a 27,000-square-foot, five-story industrial building adjacent to the tower at 2022 W. North Ave. that was built in the early 1900s and now is home to 20 "shared stay" rooms.
Here are a few "before" and "after" images of the transformation, including some photos Dinko snapped on her final day at work in her office on the 11th floor of the tower, overlooking the neighborhood.
Jim Pullos, a retired restaurateur who had a small office in the Northwest Tower, said in 2013 that a hotel "could be a positive" for the neighborhood.
The Entry Area in the Tower:
Victor Maslon's manually operated elevator is now automated.
What the office building hallway used to look like, in 2013. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
"Cafe Robey Upstairs," a second-floor lounge open to the public.
Cafe Robey. [Adrian Gaut]
The Up & Up lounge on the rooftop of The Robey. [Adrian Gaut]
The Robey lobby. [Adrian Gaut]
The Hollander lobby. [Adrian Gaut]