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Alderman delays vote on Wicker Park hotel over its ‘suburban’ design

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It’s apparently back to the drawing board for a seven-story hotel designed by architect Ronald Vari

Image via Chicago DPD

In a somewhat unusual move, a Chicago alderman is obstructing a proposed development not based on height, density, or traffic, but over its poor aesthetics. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) has reportedly delayed the City Council vote to approve a new seven-story hotel slated to replace a gas station at the southeast corner of North and Ashland in Wicker Park until the developer comes back to him with a better-looking design.

Approved by the Chicago Plan Commission in February, the latest design from property owner George Nediyakalayil and architect Ronald Vari already showed considerable revisions over what was publicly presented to neighbors last year. The 99-room project ditched the precast concrete slabs of its previous iteration in favor of a metal-clad facade, additional windows, and a corner cut-out with a bit of new landscaping.

A rendering of 1551 W. North from 2016 (left) versus what was presented to the Plan Commission in February (right)
Ronald Vari/2nd Ward/Chicago DPD

These changes were apparently not enough to win over Hopkins. "We requested one final round of aesthetic improvements," the Alderman told DNAinfo’s Alisa Hauser on Monday. "It still doesn’t look like it is at home in Wicker Park and Noble Square. It looks more suburban and we are trying to get away from that ... It’s still just not an attractive building by most people’s standards."

Ald. Hopkins promised to post renderings on his website for community comment if and when an updated design is sent his way. Meanwhile, Nediyakalayil claims that he has a signed letter of intent from Hyatt to anchor the proposed development.