Hotel, retail complex proposed near McCormick Place
Delayed deadlines and unclear financing raise questions about massive project
11/16/2011 10:00 PM
A strategic piece of land just north of McCormick Place West is being eyed for redevelopment again, with developers pitching a massive new development to take advantage of convention attendees.
Though they haven’t gone public with the pitch yet, developers have been laying the groundwork for the new project, which would cover two square blocks between Cermak Road and 21st Street, Indiana to Calumet avenues.
While financing for the site is still very much up in the air, the site’s developers have been working up plans for the site for some time.
According to a packet given to Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) earlier this year, the $550 million project would be called Prairie Blocks. If completed, the two-phase project would include 1,790 hotel rooms in two new luxury hotels.
One 700-room hotel, to be run by the Morgans Hotel Group, would feature a 500-seat entertainment venue and a rooftop restaurant and bar. A second, 1,090 room hotel would be developed by the Continental Companies.
The development would offer 120,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, as well as 1,000 parking spaces. They’re also shooting for 100,000 square feet of commercial space with “unique retail, top-of-the-line fitness center, world-class restaurants and entertainment.”
The packet also pitches significant employment numbers: 3,000 full-time and part-time jobs during construction, 2,000 permanent hotel jobs and 800 permanent retail and restaurant jobs.
The packet pitches the structure itself as LEED-certified, and would also preserve the historic American Book Company Building, 320-330 E. Cermak.
The packet, however, projects groundbreaking on the site in June of 2011 with an opening date of fall 2013. Deadlines for that scenario have long since come and passed. The property is currently involved in a bankruptcy case.
Fioretti has talked to the developers numerous times about the project, he said, and isn’t sure what’s going to happen at the site just yet.
“I throw my arms up because it’s going to be a long haul on this property,” Fioretti said. “There’s got to be multifaceted financing, and every time I talk to all the financing people, they all say, ‘She’s got to get out of bankruptcy first.’”
Crain’s Chicago Business recently reported that Arizona-based Winners Development LLC had agreed to invest $40.2 million in the project, though that’s not nearly enough to get the project started.
The property’s owner and a representative for Winners Development did not return calls from Chicago Journal requesting comment.
Plans for the Prairie Blocks development will include retail, hotel space and food options