I am writing about the proposal to construct a six-story, 145-room Hampton Inn hotelon the vacant lot located at the southwest corner of Sheridan Road and Albion Avenue.
I hosted a community meeting on the proposal last January.The proposal was also reviewed by the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, a group of neighborhood residents and representatives of the major community organizations in the ward that advises me on all zoning and land use issues that come before me.
After careful consideration of the opinions and suggestions of the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee and the residents who attended the meeting or corresponded with my office, I have decided to SUPPORT the proposal.
Below are the details of the proposal and my reasons for supporting it:
Loyola University is partnering with Atira Hotels, LLC, to construct the hotel, which will also provide five ground level storefronts, containing nearly 10,000 square feet of retail space. Loyola will control the land and the retail. The hotel will offer lodging rooms only with no restaurant or meeting halls.
Twenty spaces of parking will be provided in a lot located immediately adjacent to the hotel. The hotel developer has entered into an agreement with the owner of The Morgan at Loyola Stationto allow overflow parking in The Morgan’s parking garage, if necessary. The Morgan’s parking garage is currently underutilized.
The proposal also calls for changing the portion of Albion between Sheridan Road and the alley immediately west of Sheridan from one-way to two-way to allow for vehicles to access the hotel off of Sheridan Road. A bump-out would be installed on Albion at the northwest corner of the alley to prevent west bound traffic from traveling further down the block. The two-way bike path will remain. The proposed directional change on Albion has been reviewed and approved by theCity of Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Click here to view renderings of the proposed development and a site plan
The proposed development is allowed under the existing zoning, but because it falls within the Lakefront Protection Zone, review under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance and approval by the Chicago Plan Commission is required. The developer must also apply to the City of Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals for a special use permit to allow for the operation of the hotel, accessory off-site parking and a reduction in the minimum number of off-street parking sites required from 31 to 20. Finally, changing the portion of Albion to two-way requires approval of the City Council.
Approximately 80 residents attended the community meeting on the proposal, which was advertised through my electronic newsletter and with fliers posted in the surrounding community. Some in attendance opposed the hotel because they believed it would detract from the residential character of Sheridan Road, while others supported the hotel, citing a need for lodging in the immediate neighborhood.
Many in attendance supported the concept of a hotel at that location but opposed the specific proposal because they did not believe it adequately addressed traffic and parking concerns.
Despite those concerns, the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend that I support the project.
My Reasons for Supporting the Proposal
I agree with the Committee’s recommendation and will recommend to the Chicago Plan Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals that those bodies support the proposal. I will also support an ordinance to change Albion from one-way to two-way between Sheridan Road and the alley immediately west of Sheridan to provide motorists with direct access to the hotel from Sheridan.
The hotel will offer Rogers Park amuch-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. The closest mid-priced hotels are located miles away in Evanston and Skokie.
The proposed hotel development will also bring to the Sheridan Road commercial corridor an additional 10,000 square feet of new retail space and, over the course of a year, thousands of hotel guests, who will likely spend some of their consumer dollars here in the neighborhood.
The building itself fits the character and scale of development along Sheridan Road. The building will sit immediately adjacent to the public way with doors and windows opening out on the street, reinforcing the existing pedestrian character of Sheridan.
CDOT worked with the development team to design access and egress off of Albion (see rendering on right) in a manner that will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the flow of traffic into the neighborhood. 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.
A number of those attending the community meeting expressed concern about possible traffic back-ups on northbound Sheridan Road caused by vehicles turning left onto Albion to access the hotel. The experts at CDOT, however, expressly rejected a proposal for a left turn arrow, saying that the projected one-percent increase in traffic on the already-heavily trafficked corridor did not justify giving up on-street parking to accommodate a left-turn lane.
If it turns out the CDOT experts were incorrect and traffic on northbound traffic on Sheridan is unduly impacted by those turning left into the hotel, a left turn arrow and lane can always be installed.
Similarly, I will consider recommending modifications to the current permit parking restrictions in the unlikely event that an undue number of hotel guests choose to park on nearby streets rather than avail themselves of the hundreds of off-street parking spaces provided to them.
If you have any questions or further comments regarding my decision, please feel free to reply to this email.