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High-rise hotel planned near McDonald’s West Loop HQ breaks cover

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The 19-story proposal would cater primarily to extended-stay corporate travelers

Eckenhoff Saunders Architects
Eckenhoff Saunders Architects

After breaking ground on the block-sized corporate headquarters at 110 N. Carpenter and getting approval for a 12-story “vendor village” at 210 N. Carpenter, developer Sterling Bay is lining up the next piece of McDonald’s move from its suburban Oak Brook campus to Chicago’s hot West Loop. Last night, representatives from Sterling Bay and Chicago-based design firm Eckenhoff Saunders Architects publicly unveiled plans for a 19-story Hyatt hotel that would serve primarily as extended-stay corporate housing for attendees of the fast food giant’s “Hamburger University” training program.

Known by its address of 113 N. May Street, the proposed development would replace a former Harpo Studios parking lot at the northeast corner of May and Washington. The new high-rise would contain 220 guest rooms, two levels of parking containing roughly 40 spaces, a fourth floor sky lobby, a guest amenity level, and ground floor retail space. While the base of the 199-foot building embraces the familiar West Loop neo-industrial aesthetic and does a good job of hiding the parking levels, things get a little more generic-looking on the tower’s metal and concrete upper portion.

Despite rising 19 stories, the development is seeking only a modest zoning bump from DX-3 to DX-5. The project achieves its height with only a 5.0 Floor Area Ratio (FAR) due to the fact that the boundaries of the Planned Development (PD) also encompass an adjacent two story office structure on May and the building at 118 N. Aberdeen that Sterling Bay has gifted to the City of Chicago for a new public library. In other words, the hotel utilizes unused density from its two neighbors.

Jay Koziarz

With 12-story proposals routinely spurring outrage among West Loop residents, it’s little surprise that many in attendance of last night’s meeting took issue with the height of a 19-story hotel. While the developers pointed to the city’s provisional West Loop Design Guidelines which stress that taller and thinner buildings are preferable over squatty structures, many neighbors just weren’t buying it. Some residents also questioned the economic feasibility of the project.

Despite these concerns, it’s obvious that 113 N. May will serve a real need. Hyatt currently operates a hotel and event venue at McDonald’s current Oak Brook headquarters. In fact, competing West Loop developer Shapack Partners proposed a similar extended-stay corporate housing complex for its property at 801 W. Lake Street. The Jeff Shapack-led outfit later pivoted its plan to office space—presumably once it became clear that Sterling Bay was developing its own project much closer to Micky D’s main office complex.

After neighbors voiced complaints over shadows, traffic, and blocked views, Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. concluded last night’s meeting by saying that the developer would have to go back to the drawing board and “come down” as far as height was concerned. The 27th Ward alderman made a nearly identical comment at the conclusion of an April meeting regarding a 20-story apartment project proposed for 166 N. Aberdeen. A month later, the developer filed a zoning application for an 18-story building.