Last night at a community meeting in the West Loop, reps from the development team who are working on constructing the country's first Nobu Hotel & Restaurant "built from the ground up" presented their proposal to a packed house. The prestigious Nobu brand, founded by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, currently has 29 restaurants and 3 hotels worldwide (with 4 more planned). In March, the company issued a press release stating their intentions of opening a 155 room hotel and restaurant combo in the West Loop, causing a stir in the area. The development is planned for the northeast corner of Randolph and Peoria, which is currently an empty lot. The presentation unveiled a Booth Hansen designed 12 story (13 level) building composed of structural steel, masonry, and large windows, which the building's architect stated are the right materials for the building to fit in with the West Loop's industrial aesthetic. Located on Restaurant Row, the restaurant will contain 248 seats and offer outdoor patio dining along Randolph and parking for 65 vehicles. The plan also calls for spacious hotel rooms, with an estimated average size of 400 square feet and larger. The majority of the rooms will be located on floors 4-11, and at the top, a large penthouse would sit.
The development would be built only a couple of short blocks from public transit, and according to the Nobu team, would become an important tourist destination and economic driver for the West Loop. Reps from the team also stated that there would be no negative impacts from development, as the hotel and restaurant combo is compatible with the area's industrial and residential uses.
However, there were concerns about the development, and more specifically about the area's pending historic district status, which would affect 75 buildings in the Fulton-Randolph neighborhood. Some residents asked why a new, tall building is being planned for the area when the city is trying to move forward with landmarking. The Nobu team stated that the idea to build the development predates the new landmark district proposal. At 154 feet tall, the building would also be the largest on the stretch, and several residents voiced concerns about the height, although the original plan was to construct a 14 story building. There were even some questions about pay-for-play and transparency. And what about the Banksy piece on the building next door? The building's architect said that a glass window would be built into the side of restaurant so that visitors could view the stencil.
As for next steps, the development team does not have a specific timeline, as changes may still be made to the plan. Nobu has formally signed a lease with the property owner however, and has indicated plans on staying at the location for at least 45 years.