|By Jonathan Bullington, Chicago
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 20, 2012 --Lincolnwood officials have granted the owner of the "Purple Hotel" more time to file applications to redevelop the site -- putting aside for now any talk of demolition by the village.
Trustees this week extended a Dec. 31 deadline to Feb. 28 for submitting all zoning applications for redeveloping the property, saying the property owner has made progress toward revitalizing the vacant hotel.
"I'm impressed with what I've seen," Trustee Thomas Heidtke said during a Village Board meeting Tuesday.
Opened in 1962 by the Hyatt company, the Purple Hotel boasts a history as colorful as its exterior. Once a favorite of musicians and athletes, the hotel declined in later years, serving as the scene for drug parties and a suspected mob hit. After multiple ownership changes, the hotel closed in 2007 after village officials became fed up with its long list of building and health code violations.
After receiving court permission to do so, the village awarded a $1.1 million contract last year to demolish the building. But the demolition never came, and current owner North Capital Group purchased the 8.5-acre triangular site for $8.3 million in June. Since that time, NCG partner Jake Weiss has spent roughly $2 million on site cleanup, planning, financing, marketing and village reimbursement for past costs incurred at the site.
All the while, the village has required Weiss to meet benchmarks outlined in a pre-development agreement. Failure to meet the conditions of that agreement could cause the village to pursue demolition.
The plan calls for renovating the existing hotel building into a boutique hotel with banquet and restaurant facilities, as well as construction of up to 40,000 square feet of retail and office space.
NCG attorney Hal Francke said his client has started the village's planned unit development process and has assembled about 60 percent of the necessary elements to submit formal zoning applications.
One trustee argued against the deadline extension, saying demolishing the building and "starting from a blank slate" would enhance redevelopment opportunities on the parcel.
"I, and I believe many residents, don't look at the Purple Hotel as an iconic structure worth saving, but as a blighted structure that has outlived its useful life," Trustee Nicholas Leftakes said. "A true new ground-up development is what Lincolnwood truly deserves."
Francke told trustees that Weiss was the only person to bid on the Purple Hotel property when it came up for auction in May. Representatives from two architectural foundations -- Landmarks Illinois and the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects -- wrote to the village saying the hotel could be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
"There are a lot of people out there who do believe it is the iconic structure," Francke said.
(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune
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