Zoning board approves Rogers Park hotel

Written by William Tolan

Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals has given Loyola and Atira Hotels the green light to build a Hampton Inn hotel in Rogers Park.

The official approval came on March 23, and it was needed to start the hotel operation, use off-site parking and reduce the minimum number of off-street parking spots from 31 to 20.

The Board’s approval came just three days after Rogers Park Ald. Joe Moore publicly expressed his support for the hotel in a letter to constituents.

“The hotel will offer Rogers Park a much-needed amenity, as our neighborhood currently lacks a quality mid-priced hotel. A substantial majority of our neighborhood residents live in studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments, making it difficult for them to host out-of-town guests,” said Moore in the letter.

Tim McGuriman, Loyola’s vice president for business services, said Moore plays a major role in advancing the project.

“We are very pleased to have the support of Ald. Moore,” said McGuriman. “His input and feedback during this process has been invaluable and we look forward to continuing our dialogue as we continue with the planning of the hotel.”

Loyola began working with Atira Hotels in October 2013 to plan the new hotel. The university owns the hotel’s land and will operate retail space in the hotel’s first floor.

Response to the Hampton Inn’s proposal and Loyola’s involvement have left many with mixed responses in regards to traffic concerns, treatment of workers and the purpose it will serve for the Rogers Park and Loyola communities.

“I think they are making efforts to make Rogers Park a little more comfortable for students,” said senior communication studies major Harrison Hayes, 22. “Immediately, right now though, I don’t think the area is ready for it.”

Some students, such as junior Ad/PR major Addie Whelan, felt the hotel would not serve much purpose for the Loyola community.

“My only question about it is who is legitimately going to stay there,” said Whelan, 21. “It’s going to seem so out of place.”

Moore said that the economic benefits the hotel could bring to Rogers Park with the additional 10,000 square feet of retail space to Sheridan Road are another reason he is providing support for the hotel’s construction.

Moore addressed concerns regarding construction and traffic. He said traffic will not be affected according to the City of Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).

“CDOT worked with the development team to design access and egress off of Albion in a manner that will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the flow of traffic into the neighborhood,” Moore said. “The easy access to the Loyola Red Line station, and the guaranteed availability of over a hundred parking spaces at the nearby Morgan parking garage will help to mitigate any potential impact on residential street parking, even when the hotel is fully occupied.”

He said that if the CDOT is wrong and northbound traffic on Sheridan Road continues, then the city can install a left turn arrow and lane.

While Moore’s support for the hotel is a big step forward for the planned construction, McGuriman said there is still a lot of work that must be done before construction can begin.

“There are still a number of steps that need to be completed including, getting the building permits and such,” McGuriman said. “Loyola is willing to assist Atira with that process as requested.”

The proposed hotel falls within the Lakefront Protection Zone, meaning review under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance and approval by the Chicago Plan Commission are both still required for the hotel to begin construction. The changing of Albion Avenue to a two-way street also requires the approval of Chicago’s City Council.

The hotel proposal includes five ground-level storefronts, nearly 10,000 square feet of retail space and 20 available parking spaces with additional parking allowed at The Morgan at Loyola Station. Construction details also include changing the “portion of Albion between Sheridan Road and the alley immediately west of Sheridan from [a] one-way [street] to [a] two-way [street] to allow for vehicles to access the hotel off of Sheridan Road,” according to a written statement from Moore.

“If all goes according to plan, we hope that construction will begin by late summer [2015] or early fall [2015],” McGuriman said.

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