Michigan Avenue’s Carbide & Carbon Building to get new hotel this spring, in rare vote of confidence during pandemic – Chicago Tribune
The new owner of the Carbide & Carbon Building plans to open a rebranded hotel in the North Michigan Avenue landmark before the summer, offering a rare vote of confidence to a downtown Chicago tourism market that has been pummeled by COVID-19.
The Pendry Chicago is on target to open on an unspecified date this spring in the 40-story tower at 230 N. Michigan Ave., spokeswoman Marrissa Mallory said. It will be the third name for the property in recent years. The tower previously was home to the Hard Rock Hotel before it was rebranded in 2018 as the St. Jane Hotel, which closed last spring because of the pandemic.
The Pendry, part of California-based hotel chain Montage International, plans to operate a 364-room hotel that will include a French brasserie and oyster bar, Venteux, from former Temporis chef Don Young.
The hotel will face difficult conditions. Overall downtown Chicago hotel occupancy was just over 23% in the week ending Jan. 2, helped the occupancy level of a year earlier, according to hotel industry research firm STR.
Chicago’s hotel recovery is likely to depend heavily on the return of major events such as conventions at McCormick Place, according to experts, and it’s unclear how long it will be until companies resume sending large numbers of employees to conventions and other business trips.
After waves of huge cancellations during the pandemic, several large McCormick Place conventions are scheduled to take place in June and beyond, at least tentatively, providing some hope of a return to group events.
“Chicago is such a meeting-heavy city,” said Jan Freitag, a senior vice president at STR and national director of hospitality market analytics. “It’s so reliable on large meetings that it’s hard to fathom any sort of recovery without groups.”
Travel is expected to remain sluggish in the first half of 2021 before seeing a significant uptick in the second half of the year, as COVID-19 vaccinations continue and pent-up demand from travelers kicks in, Freitag said.
Even so, it could be years before hotels regain pre-pandemic room rates, he said. Room rates have remained virtually unchanged despite the decreased demand, according to STR, but revenue per available room was down more than 50% from the same week a year earlier because of the low occupancy.
Downtown Chicago hotels in financial distress include the Palmer House Hilton, the city’s second-largest hotel, which is the subject of an ongoing $338 million foreclosure suit filed against building owner Thor Equities in August.
In another project affected by the pandemic, Magellan Development Group has chopped one of two planned hotels from a high-rise it wants to start building later this year within its Lakeshore East development not far from the Carbide & Carbon Building.
Michigan-based Becker Ventures closed the Hard Rock hotel in 2017 and reopened it as the rebranded St. Jane, named for social worker and activist Jane Addams, in 2018.
The Rodina Group bought the tower from Becker Ventures, paying almost $65.6 million in September, according to Cook County property records. It is working with a liquidator to sell furnishings from the former St Jane.
Despite its relatively short time in operation, the St. Jane name connects with Chicagoans interested in buying up its furnishings, according to the furniture liquidation firm, called AJJA.
The company spent about two months hauling out thousands of items — including chairs, sofas, beds, couches, marble-top desks, lamps, espresso machines and art prints — from all 40 floors, said AJJA sales associate Esell Brandon.
“People want a piece of the St. Jane Hotel,” Brandon said. “It’s high-quality furniture, and it’s only a couple of years old.”
Items first went up for sale early this year via online marketplaces, and a warehouse and showroom recently opened for business at 5610 W. Bloomingdale Ave. in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side. Visits are by appointment only.
Prices range from about $50 for small items to about $5,000 for a large marble table, Brandon said.
Initial customers have included people moving to new homes and Airbnb property owners, he said.
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