A proposal to build an LGBT hotel on Halsted Street in the heart of the Lakeview neighborhood drew mixed reactions from the crowd at a community meeting May 2.
More than 50 people from the Lakeview community gathered at the 19th police district community room on Addison Street to hear additional details about the proposed hotel. Information and details about the proposed hotel were first unveiled at a community meeting on April 11.
Among the community leaders in attendance were; Alderman Tom Tunney, Sidetrack owner Art Johnston, Minibar co-owner John Dalton, Roscoe's owner Jim Ludwig, and the Lucky Horseshoe Lounge owner Ben Allen.
Ian Reisner, managing partner of Parkview Developers in New York, presented his plans for a contemporary 10-story "straight-friendly" urban resort hotel nestled in between Sidetrack and Minibar.
The proposed four star hotel, The Out Chicago, would be the second of its kind and would be modeled after Reisner's other LGBT hotel, The Out NYC, located in Midtown Manhattan. Reisner's proposal calls for about 110 hotel rooms; a full spa, gym and wellness center for both hotel guests and community members at a discounted rate; KTCHN Art (a three-meal a day diner/restaurant, room service and catering operation); event and meeting spaces; XL Minibar & Cabaret; a fully enclosed rooftop lounge/bar; a multi-purpose fully enclosed glass courtyard; BOUTIQUE retail store and lobby access into Sidetrack.
The original plans called for a blocky and darker facade12-story hotel, however, after community members raised concerns about the height and look of the proposed space Reisner reduced the height and lightened up the facade. In the new plans the 10th story is set back from the street.
During the presentation, Reisner explained that his hotel would be a welcome anchor for the community. Reisner confirmed that Art Smith has agreed to be the executive chef at the hotel's diner/restaurant and that a number of Chicago based companies have signed on as partners including the real estate firm of WBS Equities, Chicago Real Estate Resources Inc., Pepper Construction and the architecture firm Koo and Associates.
A number of community members raised concerns about the location of the hotel within the Lakeview community, up-zoning and density issues, increased crime rates and safety issues due to the hotel's presence, increased traffic and parking congestion due to hotel guests and restaurant patrons, the location of the parking lot and delivery entrances, the height of the proposed hotel blocking both their view and access to sunlight, and how this will affect property values in the area.
Reisner argued that the presence of 24/7 security and continuous light at the hotel will increase community safety and would also revitalize the street by adding foot traffic to retail and dining spaces during the day. As an urban resort, Reisner explained that The Out Hotel will be a neighborhood hub that showcases local artists and sculptors work throughout the hotel's public spaces, offers discounts for community members, meeting spaces for a variety of organizations and events, and will contribute to the maintenance of the Triangle Neighbors Space Park.
One community member asked about potential job opportunities and Reisner confirmed that about 75 permanent jobs would be created in addition to the jobs that would be created during the construction phase of the $30 million project.
The most vocal supporters of the project were the local bar owners and a number of the younger residents in attendance. In voicing his support, Johnston spoke about the history of the neighborhood as it has developed over the years to include more retail and nightclub/bar spaces as well as residential properties. "I've seen community meetings for 30 years and every time something is going to change on Halsted Street we all thought it was the end of the world ... but things worked out just fine," said Johnston.
Reisner noted that this meeting is just one of many that are being planned and that he will be conducting a traffic study sometime in the near future.