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Hyde Park Could Be Getting A Hip New Boutique Hotel

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Jul 29, 2015 8:00PM

This parking lot is set to be transformed (Google Maps)

There are plans in the works to bring a 90-room boutique hotel with a restaurant and patio to Hyde Park's 53rd Street.

Developers are hoping to break ground on the spot currently occupied by a University of Chicago parking lot at 53rd and Dorchester Avenue in Spring 2016, DNA Info reports. Last night Smart Hotels LLC made their pitch to the community in a meeting hosted by Ald. Leslie Hairston.

It sounds like it will be pretty hip: GREC Architects, who designed Los Angeles' Ace Hotel, are the design architects behind the project. Greg Randall, principal for GREC, said, "We have the opportunity to create something new … not an overly contemporary building, but also not a building that would attempt to mimic the past. We have context here. We have a neighborhood to respect."

There aren't renderings yet but there will be a restaurant and patio in addition to the rooms on the 21,000-square-foot lot. There will be 15 parking spaces—one for every six rooms— but there will be a shuttle from Smart Hotels' nearby Hyatt Place for overflow parking.

DNA Info reports that neighbors attending the meeting had some concerns about parking and traffic created by the project, and that the new project would obstruct views. Smart Hotels President Ed Small said that they plan to integrate the hotel into the community and that the height will be comparable to buildings in the area.

53rd Street has become a major food destination in Hyde Park, and last year saw the openings of restaurants like A10 and The Promontory. The area has seen an influx of hotels, as well. Last year Hyatt Place opened up. DNA Info notes that a nearby former Ramada is getting a revamp by La Quinta Inn and Suites. There's also a 26-story hotel and apartments project in the works at Solstice on the Park at 56th Street and Cornell Avenue.

Hyde Park wasn't always so keen on bringing hotels into the neighborhood: in 2008, a proposal to convert the vacant Doctor's Hospital at Stony Island Avenue and East 58th Street into a hotel was effectively killed when the community voted to make the 39th precinct dry.