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Inside the Del Prado: Restoring a Hyde Park Hotel to Former Glory

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We've been reporting on the long (and growing) list of new rental high-rises that are planned for downtown Chicago, but what's happening in Hyde Park these days is even more exciting. Antheus Capital and its property management company, MAC Properties (the neighborhood's biggest landlord), has acquired several old hotels and is in the process of restoring them to their former glory. We've written a few status updates on the Shoreland Hotel, but here's a building that non-Hyde Parkers might not be quite as familiar with. A couple years ago Antheus/MAC acquired the Del Prado Apartments, a beautiful old hotel at the corner of 53rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard, with the intention of rehabbing it and updating the building's 194 rental apartments. Yesterday, MAC director Peter Cassel was kind enough to invite Curbed down to Hyde Park to check up on the building's progress, and he gave us a guided tour through the building. (View this 2009 Hyde Park Progress post for an idea of what the building looked like before major interior demolition.)
When it was built in 1918, the building was known as the Cooper-Carlton Hotel (later changed to the Del Prado, named after a different hotel on the Midway), and it was one of the swankier South Side hotels. A man by the name of Sherman Cooper developed the building, and he had it bad for Native Americans, which he expressed in the Native American iconography found in the pillars of the common areas, as well as the terra cotta on the exterior of the building. (According to Cassel, Cooper even went as far as to change his middle name to "Tecumseh.") In the '20s, Hyde Park was viewed as a suburban vacation retreat from the chaos of the Loop and the stockyards, and the Cooper-Carlton, overlooking the bucolic park, was one if the neighborhood's top retreats. According to a Babe Ruth biography, even the Bambino stayed there to avoid paparazzi.

The building was designed by architect Henry Newhouse, and it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Studio Gang Architects is overseeing the gut-rehab, and they're working to restore the building's architectural treasures. Many of the ornamental plaster moldings will survive (some of which were protected when they were covered up with drywall, as Cassel pointed out).

The current entrance to the Del Prado is on 53rd Street, but MAC is reviving the grand entrance on Hyde Park Boulevard. Some of the heaviest construction is taking place in the basement and the ground-floor and second-floor common areas and commercial space. In 2009, the City Council approved a zoning change allowing the Del Prado to open a restaurant in the building, along with catering services and a bar. Cassel says MAC expects to fill one of the commercial spaces with a restaurant, and they're currently in talks with different restaurants. In the second-floor space, which has a wall of windows overlooking Herald Washington Park, Cassel envisions a yoga studio or fitness club. As for the second ballroom on the second floor, Cassel says, "I would love to find a guy whose dream it is to run a single-screen movie theater," but he doesn't have anything lined up just yet.

MAC got permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to take down and rebuild the wings on the building's top floors. Cassel says they're planning to build 8 higher-end units with roof decks on the 12th floor, and a few more on the 13th floor. The 12th-floor units should be completed by late summer or early fall.

Cassel took us up to the 10th and 11th floors to take in the view and check out some of the updated apartments. In contrast to the nearly hundred-year-old white terra cotta on the building's exterior, the apartments are sleek and modern. They aren't so modern as to to clash with the building's history, but enough to satisfy today's mid- to high-end renter. With the upgrades, the rental prices will likely increase. Cassel says that MAC hasn't priced out the apartments just yet, but he says prices will be consistent with the existing rental market in Hyde Park. We viewed several different floor plans, ranging from a studio to a two-bedroom. The best views from the Del Prado look out on Herald Washington Park, but some tiers on the eastern side of the building do have views that peek through to the lake. When completed, the building will have 194 apartments, most of which will be one- and two-bedrooms (with a few studios as well).

Hungry for more? Tomorrow, we'll take you inside the Shoreland.

Del Prado

5307 South Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60615 Visit Website