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Demo permit issued for old Museum of Contemporary Art building in Streeterville

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Developers have proposed an Aloft-branded hotel for the shuttered low-rise structure

237 E. Ontario
Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Liz Bustamante

Chicago’s hotel and hospitality boom is moving from strength to strength as the old Museum of Contemporary Art building at 237 E. Ontario prepares to bite the dust for a new 19-story Aloft limited service hotel. Tishman Realty first presented its plans to redevelop the Streeterville site in late 2015, then calling for a 24-story, 395-room hotel designed by architect Valerio Dewalt Train Associates.

Neighbors subsequently took issue with the initial plan and vehemently opposed the location of the hotel’s porte-cochere, which was to be positioned in the alleyway to minimize traffic disruptions along Ontario. Nearby residents even created a website dedicated to preserving the sanctity of Chicago alleyways, stating that “alleys are alleys” not streets or loading zones.

A rendering of the hotel proposed for 237 E. Ontario. The contentious alley porte-cochere can be seen left.
Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

In October, Tishman had shortened its hotel down to 19 stories, apparently abandoning its previous request for Planned Development (PD) zoning approval. The height chop allows the developers to move forward as-of-right by utilizing the site’s existing zoning while also absolving any elected officials of culpability when it comes to unhappy neighboring constituents.

With the recent issuance of a demo permit for the old museum, it’s obvious plans are moving forward—despite it being unclear when actual construction on the Aloft Mag Mile will begin in earnest. Tishman anticipated an 18-month construction timeline for the taller, 24-story iteration of the project.