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Midtown Athletic Club Making No Small Plans: Welcome To Your 'Third Space'

By Alisa Hauser | May 4, 2017 9:59am
 Scenes from a hard hat tour of Midtown Athletic Club.
Midtown Athletic Club Renovations
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BUCKTOWN — The venerable Midtown Athletic Club, after a $75 million transformation, is targeting a late July opening.

"My dream is to build the best club in the world that also gets to have a boutique hotel," second-generation owner Steven Schwartz said during a hard hat tour of the club Wednesday.

Anchoring the northwest corner of Fullerton, Damen and Elston avenues and visible from the Kennedy Expy., the massive fitness and hospitality complex will offer Midtown members and guests of the Hotel at Midtown a dizzying number of amenities, as well as a place to congregate.

Or as Midtown's chief operating officer John Brady puts it, "a third space" beyond home, work or school.

A yoga room. [All renderings by DMAC Architecture/renderings ArX Solutions]


The outdoor pool will be an ice rink in winter.

A room in the Hotel at Midtown.

Among the highlights in the six-level, 575,000-square-foot club are two PGA golf simulators, a 75-yard indoor swimming pool bordered by wooden plank flooring resembling a boardwalk, an outdoor pool that will be converted to an ice skating rink in winter and more.

In addition to tennis courts and lessons, as many as 160 group exercise classes will be offered weekly.

"This is our passion, our legacy," Schwartz said of the family-owned business that will grow its employees from an existing 100 to as many as 300 to staff the club, hotel, restaurant, spa and salon.

The core tennis business that Midtown was founded on in 1970 by Schwartz's father and grandfather has become an inefficient use of the prominent corner at the crossroads of Bucktown, Logan Square, Lincoln Park and Lakeview where Midtown draws its 4,000 members, Schwartz said.

"In the 1970s, this corner was a nice big industrial building that could house a New York-style tennis club," Schwartz said of the indoor courts, which attract tennis players from around the city and suburbs.

The expansion, designed by Evanston's DMAC Architecture, began in May 2015.

The site is flooded with natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows. Rooms in the 55-room hotel on the fourth and fifth floors, which plan to open on Oct. 1, offer skyline and expressway views.

Midtown dues for new club individual members are $180 a month, while existing members who pay $120 per month will gradually scale up to the $180, Schwartz said.

Though the club could potentially accommodate as many as 7,000 members and membership sales have grown in recent months due to word-of-mouth about the expansion, Schwartz maintained it's not about crowding the club.

"Our goal is not to pack it, it's luxury and fun and upscale. A lot of love and pride is in this, not just return on assets," Schwartz said.

Schwartz described Midtown's business model as targeted to folks who are "a little older, more settled," and who want all the conveniences in one spot, such as a mom taking a spinning class while her son is at a tennis lesson.

"We provide a community; its a third space to mix and mingle and socialize. You can come here to workout or not even workout. It's not cookie cutter," Brady said.

During construction, the tennis courts and club has remained open, with temporary fitness and locker rooms carved out of the parking garage.

Virtual reality tours for the public can be taken at the club, 2444 N. Elston Ave. Learn more here.

Midtown Athletic Club - DMAC Architecture Floor Plan.