Logan Square Athletic Club may arrive in Grace’s furniture building after long-awaited boutique hotel plan scrapped

LOGAN SQUARE — The redevelopment of the former Grace’s Furniture building in the heart of Logan Square has taken another twist as developers of the long-delayed project scrapped city-approved plans to open a boutique hotel on the site.

Now developers Blue Star Properties and Marc Realty are looking to redevelop the Grace’s Furniture site, 2616-18 N. Milwaukee Ave., into a mixed-use project with the Logan Square Athletic Club as an anchor tenant, Ald said. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).

The gym would operate under the Chicago Athletic Club brand, which has multiple locations around the city, including Bucktown, Lincoln Park and West Loop, Ramirez-Rosa said. A restaurant/café is planned on the first floor.

The proposal still needs landmark and zoning approval and is being reviewed by neighborhood group Logan Square Preservation, Ramirez-Rosa said.

Scaffolding was recently installed on the site as developers began to restore the building’s terracotta. The work is being carried out in response to safety concerns. The building, which had previously been in the family since the 1960s, has deteriorated over the years and needs immediate improvements, Ramirez-Rosa said.

“The Department of Planning and Development and I have expressed that we need to ensure the building is secure and stabilized,” the alderman said.

Attempts to reach the developers and the Chicago Athletic Club were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

Credit: Provided
An old rendering of the hotel planned for the Grace’s Furniture building.

The Logan Square Athletic Club proposal is the latest in a series of efforts to redevelop the Grace’s Furniture building, which has stood vacant for years despite being one of the most prominent structures overlooking Logan Square and the Illinois Centennial Monument.

For years, the redevelopment was held up by a legal battle over billboards on the side of the building. Facing pressure from local conservatives, the city banned the billboards in 2013. The company that owns the billboards, Visualcast, sued the city, but the city emerged victorious and the last remaining billboard fell in 2016.

Since then, developers have sought city and community approval to convert the site into a boutique hotel.

LG Development and Marc Realty were the original developers.

Holiday Jones and Fifty/50 Restaurant Group were initially recruited to serve as operators; then 16″ on Center, the hotel group behind Longman & Eagle, the Empty Bottle and other popular restaurants and music venues, was approached for the project.

This plan called for a 44-room boutique hotel and two restaurants.

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
The Grace’s Furniture building at 2616-18 N. Milwaukee Ave.

RELATED: Logan Square Boutique Hotel still on track – with Longman & Eagle Group now as operator, lawyer says

But the project never took off.

In 2020, the developers’ zoning lawyer said they struggled for months to determine whether the city or the CTA owned a small property adjacent to the building, which delayed the approval process.

Even after that issue was resolved, the developers ultimately decided to scrap the hotel plans altogether, citing financial issues amid the pandemic, Ramirez-Rosa said.

“I’m sad to hear that they won’t be moving forward with the hotel, but I understand why, given the current landscape we find ourselves in with COVID-19,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “I want to make sure ultimately that the design is something that complements the place.”

The Logan Square Athletic Club proposal resembles the hotel project, Ramirez-Rosa said. If approved, the facade of the building will be restored. The developers are also working to preserve the original Grace’s Furniture sign, the alderman said.

The terracotta work is a sign that the developers are “taking the necessary steps” to finally redevelop the site after years of tweaks and starts, Ramirez-Rosa said.

“I’ve had several meetings with the development team to push them and ask them what support they need to get this done, and the ball is really in their court to get things done,” he said. .

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