Logan Square’s Grace Hotel project continues to inch forward, and developers still hope to start work in the spring, 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa told LoganSquarist.
The boutique hotel development (2616-18 N. Milwaukee Ave.) has faced legal and developmental delays but achieved at least one milestone this month: Developers behind the project secured support from the city’s Committee on Transportation and Public Way for an “alley vacation” by the building, and the vacation was granted. That will allow to the hotel to make a minor rear addition to the building, said Jessica Vasquez, Rosa’s chief of staff.
Planned for the long-vacant Grace’s Furniture Building, the hotel project hit a roadblock after earning zoning approval over a year ago, Block Club reported. The major problem was that the city and the CTA couldn’t agree on who owned the adjacent patch of property containing a Blue Line entrance and the Paseo Community Garden (2600 N. Kedzie Ave.).
Rosa told Block Club in December that it appeared the city owned the property. But that question remains an issue, he told LoganSquarist.
“The ‘legal quagmire,’ i.e., which public entity owns the property on which the CTA Blue Line entrance is located, is still being worked through by CTA, the City of Chicago and the developer,” Rosa said.
Once that gets fully resolved, though, the project should be able to proceed, Rosa’s office said. Construction is expected to begin in spring, Vasquez told LoganSquarist.
Local jobs at long-vacant site
Rosa’s office has advocated for the project all along and continues to do so, including supporting a zoning map amendment from the developers.
“I and my office continue to be extremely supportive of the development team, given the overwhelming support the development proposal received at our Community-Driven Zoning and Development meeting and the signed Community Benefits Agreement for this development that will ensure living wages and local hiring,” Rosa said.
Under that agreement, the hotel’s developers have committed to hiring local residents for jobs, with pay beginning at $17 an hour. Developers Blue Star Properties and 16″ on Center lead the project. They plan for a 44-room hotel with two restaurants.
The proposed hotel’s building was previously famous for a legal battle over the site’s billboard advertisements. A court ruling upheld the city’s ban on those billboards, and the spots have remained vacant since 2016. Before that dispute, the building housed Grace’s Furniture, until the business closed in 2006. The site has been vacant ever since. The building is a prominent fixture near the Logan Square blue line and the Illinois Centennial Monument.
In 2015, the recently elected Rosa met with LG Development, Marc Realty, the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce (3147 W. Logan Blvd.), the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (2840 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and Logan Square Preservation (2614 N. Kedzie Blvd.) to begin discussions on a boutique hotel development in the neighborhood. The proposal won majority support at a community input meeting in the summer of 2018. Blue Star Properties took over the site developer role from LG.
According to its website, Blue Star Properties is “a Chicago-based commercial real estate company known for the acquisition and revitalization of urban retail, office and mixed-use properties in and around Chicago.” Logan’s Longman & Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie Ave.), as well as Revival Food Hall, are in Blue Star Properties’ portfolio.
16” on Center is “a hospitality collective taking on projects and buildings in neighborhoods” throughout the city. Each project is a stand-alone business, but 16″ on Center provides support to each location. Craig Golden, in addition to being a partner at 16″ on Center, is the president of Blue Star Properties. Empty Bottle Presents and Beauty Bar are two 16″ on Center properties.
This story was updated with additional information from the alderman’s office to note that the alley vacation was granted.
Featured photo: LG Development