A developer’s plan to build a four-story, 112-room hotel along a stretch of Higgins Road in Park Ridge has moved another step forward, though the project is still far from a done deal.
The Park Ridge City Council on Sept. 3 voted 4-2 to approve a special-use permit for the planned development of a hotel at 1440 Higgins Road, the site of Mr. K Garden and Material Center. Fifth Ward Ald. Charlie Melidosian and 6th Ward Ald. Marc Mazzuca voted against the project, and 4th Ward Ald. Roger Shubert, who had voted “no” on the first reading last month, was absent.
Mazzuca, who has objected to the height of the building and the number of on-site parking spaces proposed, attempted to postpone the final vote until November when an economic feasibility study is closer to completion, but the motion failed to received support from a majority of the council.
“We’re dealing with decisions that have multi-million-dollar impacts tonight if we say yes,” Mazzuca said. “I think there is more information we can have as a result of the feasibility study.”
But City Manager Joe Gilmore said he did not believe the study would provide aldermen with any information related to their vote on the development plans.
“It’s really related to financial incentives, if they are warranted and the degree to which is up to the council,” Gilmore said of the economic feasibility study. “I don’t think it relates to this conversation.”
Shubert, who said he was out of town on business and unable to participate in the Sept. 3 City Council meeting, said he has not decided if he will request a reconsideration of the council’s vote during the next regular meeting.
The plan that was approved calls for a 49-foot roofline, which is 9 feet higher than what the city’s zoning ordinance allows, the City Council was told. Additionally, a portion of the roof will contain a structure that covers mechanical equipment, with the highest point at 61.5 feet, according to a memo from city staff.
The name of the potential hotel brand has not been shared with the city.
The property will include an indoor swimming pool, but not a full-service restaurant, Brown said. The developer has also proposed a parking lot with 100 spaces, which is 40 fewer than the city’s zoning laws require, and the developer has agreed to dedicate to the city 10 feet of land on the north end of the property in order for Peterson Avenue to be widened. There will not be access from the hotel property to Peterson Avenue, as the only entrances will be along Higgins, the development team has indicated.
Mazzuca called for more on-site parking to be provided.
“Without off-street parking to fully accommodate peak volume at the hotel, the most likely scenario is that the already difficult parking situation in the Peterson Avenue area will only get worse as hotel employees and guests park in the residential area north of the hotel,” Mazzuca said.
Zio Pekovic of Scarlett Hotel Group, a member of the development team, indicated that the parking spaces will be adequate, as it is “very rare to see a hotel parking at 100 percent occupancy.” A portion of guests will be taking shuttles or ride-share services to the hotel, and the building itself will not always be at full occupancy, Pekovic said.
“On average, our occupancy year-round is going to be at 70 percent,” he said.
The developer must now submit a final, more detailed development plan to the city, and this plan must receive approval from the Park Ridge Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council before it can move forward, said Jim Brown, director of community preservation and development for the city.
The final plan must follow the preliminary plans that were approved for the project, Brown said.
The development team has requested several economic incentives from the city in exchange for building the hotel, but the City Council has not taken action regarding these requests. Before considering any incentives, city staff have hired Hotel Appraisers and Advisors LLC to conduct the feasibility study of a 112-room hotel on the site, Brown said.
The study will look at things like supply and demand, projected occupancy rates, projected revenue per each available room, projected property and hotel taxes the city may collect, and hotel industry trends, Brown said. There will also be a review of the developer’s financials and financial statements from “comparable hotels” not associated with the development team, he said.
In 2017, 19 townhouses were proposed for the 2.19-acre Mr. K Garden and Material Center property, but the Park Ridge Planning and Zoning Commission voted down the request following concerns that more housing will impact area schools by generating more students.
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