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Chicago North Side

Emotions Run High As Talks Over New Boystown Hotel Continue

The proposal for a 10-story, 100 room “straight-friendly” hotel in the Boystown area of Lakeview was hotly debated at the second of a string of community meetings May 1. Ian Reisner of Parkview Developers in New York answered questions from residents concerning the impact that the new aptly named Out Hotel would have on the surrounding community.

Reisner reiterated what an important impact that the hotel would have on the Boystown area as well as it’s perfect fit for Lakeview and the city as a whole.

“I was looking at (opening a hotel) in D.C., San Francisco and Chicago, all at the same time,” said Reisner. One of the reasons why I like Chicago so much is you have a dedicated area that has historically been LGBT-focused: Boystown.”

Reisner also noted that while many new business are coming into the area, there are still many bars like Cocktail, Bucks Saloon, and Circuit- all of which have closed in the past couple of months.

“I see a migration trend away from Boystown,” said Reisner. “And my focus and dream and desire is to revitalize and reenergize the Halsted strip to cement it as the epicenter for the community.”

Yet not everyone in the community is in favor of the new hotel- and many are worried about what this will mean for traffic as well as overall esthetic of the Halsted corridor.

Former Lakeview Citizens’ Council President David Winner said at the meeting that he thinks the new hotel will increase crime and traffic in the area.

“The way I see it, it will only increase the congestion in the area, the drunkenness in the area, the public urination. Crime will increase, and I don’t care what you say,” said Winner.

Reisner fired back: “When you say, ‘What am I doing here?’ I feel like you’re attacking me. Would you like me not to bring business here?”

Paul Cannella, who owns Scarlet bar across the street, said that he doesn’t understand why people are so upset.

“As a businessperson, I completely understand differences in opinions but the overall positives for the project vastly outweigh any supposed negatives,” said Cannella.

Cannella, who has been a backer of the project since it was announced in February said that those in the neighborhood that object to the plan should take a step back and examine what the hotel could mean for the area.

“We are looking at a developer willing to pump millions of dollars into the local economy,” said Cannella. “An opportunity like that does not come around often- we need to look at the future of this community and the future includes this important project.”

The building’s $30 million project plans call for a 10-story, 61,000-square-foot hotel on the 3300 block of North Halsted. Reisner plans to purchase the Asian restaurant Mark’s Chop Suey and incorporate Minibar as an in-hotel floor on the first level. The lobby would also lead into neighboring bar Sidetrack. The hotel would also include an upscale diner named “KTCHN” with menu by famed Chef Art Smith, a retail store named “BOUTIQUE”, a rooftop lounge and bar, as well as a gym.

Reisner plans to make all of these amenities available to the neighborhood residents at a discounted price.

The next community meeting date for the proposed hotel has yet to be announced.

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