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Chicago may get a gay boutique hotel

(Chicago Tribune file photo )
April 08, 2013|By Tony Peregrin | For RedEye

Chicago's first gay boutique hotel may be checking in to Boystown.

Modeled after The Out NYC—which opened in March 2012 and is Gotham's first "straight-friendly urban resort"—The Out Chicago would be built and developed along the 3300 North block of Halsted, according to a proposal issued by Parkview Developers.

The Out Chicago concept includes a 100-room hotel that could incorporate the existing Minibar space, which is somewhat fitting as Minibar is known as a Boystown hot spot with an urban, hotel lounge environment. The proposed multi-level complex would be constructed adjacent to Sidetrack, with lobby access to the popular video bar, and would include a fully enclosed glass courtyard for events (weddings, performances, etc.), a restaurant/café, "bOUTique" (retail), and a spa/gym/wellness center.

Key members of the Parkview Developers team, including Ian Reisner, a managing partner of Parkview Developers, are expected to attend a Triangle Neighbors meeting on Thursday at the 19th District Police Station to discuss the proposal—the first time the developer has met with the neighborhood group. According to John Becvar, first vice president of Triangle Neighbors, the Belmont Harbor Neighbors group and members of the Northalsted Business Alliance have also been invited to attend the meeting, which is free and open to the public.

"We haven't taken a stance [on the proposal] other than to say the developer has not come before Triangle Neighbors," Becvar said. "This meeting isn't a formal [opportunity] for the neighborhood to vote on a position one way or another. With all the Wrigley-area proposals and the large structure being built on Halsted just south of Grace, there are a lot of concerns that will need to be addressed."

A branch of the Lake View Citizens' Council, the Triangle Neighbors association covers the area bounded by Clark, Halsted, Belmont and Addison. The association is perhaps best known for organizing the 16-year-old Halloween Parade on Halsted, which this year will likely be changing format from a parade to a street festival to save costs.

44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney met with Reisner in the summer of 2012 when the developer expressed interest in expanding the hotel brand to Chicago.

"His interests align with the 44th Ward Master Plan to have more hotel and lodging opportunities available in the area," said Bennett Lawson, Tunney's chief-of-staff. "Between people coming for the Cubs, parents visiting their kids, and all of the LGBT tourists—there is a definite need for such a development."

The 44th Ward Master Plan includes the results of a survey conducted by the ward's Community Directed Development Council in 2005 to assess the needs of the neighborhood's residents and business owners. The survey includes a top 10 list of businesses opportunities survey respondents "would like to see more of" in the ward. "Hotels/bed & breakfast" came in at No. 4 n the survey, behind art galleries, gourmet food, and fine dining.

Currently, out-of-town visitors to the Boystown area have somewhat limited options when it comes to lodging, including the Villa Toscana Guest House, City Suites Hotel, The Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace Hotel and the Days Inn Chicago.

The Out NYC, just over a year old, took five years of planning and 18 months to build. In addition to the 103-room hotel, the complex features KTCHN restaurant, the Spa Deck (think: Fire Island meets Manhattan), a "secret" bamboo garden, two hot tubs, spa treatment rooms, a gym, and the 14,000-square-foot XL Nightclub, Cabaret & Lounge.

Lawson, who will be attending the Triangle Neighbors meeting Thursday, said he's heard both "guarded reactions and positive responses" to The Out Chicago hotel proposal.

"Ian Reisner wants Boystown. We want a hotel. What we need to figure out is whether the character of the development will be a good fit for the area," Lawson said.

Tony Peregrin is a RedEye special contributor.

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