Construction on a new boutique hotel on the corner of 53rd Street and Dorchester Avenue is set to begin in spring of 2016. This hotel will be the second collaborative development between Smart Hotels, LLC and the Olympia Company in Hyde Park.
Their first property, the Hyatt Place, opened in 2013 on Harper Court as the first hotel to come to Hyde Park in 50 years. With their focus on campus communities, Smart Hotels’ initial interest in Hyde Park began in 2009.
“It had a commercial district that was strong, and it had institutions, namely the University of Chicago and University of Chicago Medical Center, that were committed to strengthening it, not only being there but making it better by it being there,” Ed Small, president of Smart Hotels, said. “The opportunity to come to Hyde Park for us was great.”
In addition to over 50 percent of the employees of Hyatt Place coming from Hyde Park and the surrounding area, Small estimated that Hyatt Place currently brings in over 50,000 people a year for overnight stays in the neighborhood, resulting in more money spent locally within the community.
“Sometimes in Chicago, for reasons beyond us, the South Side is under-appreciated, so people come with low expectations, and I think when they finally get there and see how strong of a community it is, we give them a great experience at our hotel,” Small said.
After the success of the first hotel, the developers decided they wanted to create a smaller, more intimate hotel with 90 rooms. Besides the smaller size, Small noted the greater freedom an independent hotel allows due to the lack of brand standards.
“Everything will be custom-designed from scratch,” Small said.
GREC Architects is the firm behind the design of new building. Greg Randall, the firm’s principal architect, stated that the design while not yet finalized will incorporate both the vibrant character of Hyde Park and the luxurious aesthetic of the hotel.
Additionally, the design will incorporate sustainable features to aspire to make the building at a minimum LEED Silver certified. The building will have an energy efficient heating and cooling system and an efficient electrical system. The selection of materials used will also be chosen through the lens of environmental consciousness.
DNAinfo reported that some local residents express concerns at a local meeting over a lack of parking, increase in traffic, and obstructed views due to the new hotel’s location in the midst of 53rd Street. Small stated the building would be shorter than the surrounding buildings.
“We’re seeing the neighborhood boutique hotel all over the country. You’re seeing it in Chicago as well. There’s a little bit of it in the north side, certainly the West Loop, it’s happening. But we also feel that Hyde Park and the surrounding area is deserving of a hotel that respects the local character and puts its stamp on what a neighborhood boutique hotel can be,” he said.