Zoning Change Rejected

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 19, 2008 10:14PM

2008_1_congress_hotel.JPGThe split between Mayor Daley and Chicago's labor movement grew a little bit bigger this week, as the Congress Hotel, which has been on strike for the last four and a half years, was denied an expansion request by the city's Plan Commission. Four of the nine Plan Commission members voted for the proposal Thursday, one member rejected the request, and four other members abstained from voting. Mayor Daley supported the proposal, saying that "it would be inappropriate to bring the hotel's labor issues into a discussion.... The matter before the Chicago Plan Commission is to determine if these plans are in accordance with the Lakefront Protection Ordinance. And that's all it has to do." The hotel's New York-based ownership wants to build an additional five floors to the historic property, to be used for a swimming pool, a health club, a restaurant, and more rooms.

While it's unusual for the commission to defy the mayor in zoning requests, opposition by the alderman carries influence as well. Telling the commission "the Congress has left a bad impression in the minds of hundreds, if not thousands, of Chicago visitors," Fioretti, who's ward includes the Congress Hotel, objected, noting the complaints his office has received about cleanliness and service at the hotel. The hotels owners aren't giving up just yet, however. "We're reviewing our options," said Peter Andjelkovich, a lawyer representing the hotel's owners. That could include an appeal, or request for clarification about the vote.

Image via Jonathan F. Allen