April 29, 2011

Hyatt slated to open in 2013

Hyde Park already boasts the U of C, but a new hotel is about to make it even SMARTer.

A new Hyatt Place, managed by SMART Hotels LLC., will open at East 52nd Place and Harper Avenue by spring 2013 as part of the redevelopment of Harper Court.

The six-story hotel will have 130 rooms and will include a restaurant and a wine bar, according to SMART President Ed Small. The hotel is franchised by the larger Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

The development comes as part of a larger plan to redevelop Harper Court and to reinvigorate Hyde Park.

“We see the project as part of the overall strategic project to connect the University to the neighborhood and especially 53rd street,” Small said. “The design of the hotel will be complementary to Harper Court and the Hyde Park neighborhood.”

SMART Hotels specializes in environmentally-friendly hotels for campus communities, according to its website.

“A campus is a place where people like to immerse themselves in that environment,” Small said. “You have to fit within the streets and the blocks.”

The new hotel will be part of the Hyatt Place brand and cater to a younger, more dynamic clinetele, Small said. “Hyatt Place is what is referred to as a Select Service Hyatt,” he said.

Small said the hotel will cater largely to the Hyde Park community, identifying his audience as “primarily anyone who would be seeking the University of Chicago campus, the Medical Center, or anyone in Hyde Park.”

“A level of service that is commensurate with the people who want to stay at this location,” Small said, “[The hotel is] tailored to a more youthful, independent kind of traveler as opposed to someone who needs to be pampered 24 hours.”

As part of their effort to appeal to a younger audience, Small said the company has tried to be mindful of environmental concerns throughout the designing process. “The building is being built and constructed with a LEED certification,” Small said, explaining that LEED certification includes low-consumption plumbing fixtures and a green roof.

Before construction of the hotel can begin, master developers Harper Court Partners must first make site-improvements, including an underground parking garage, Small said.

Earl Adams, Director of Marketing for the Ramada Chicago Hotel on Lake Shore Drive, said he is not worried about competition from the new hotel and that he hopes they can help each other by referring business back and forth.

“They’re proposing a four or five star hotel, I’m a two or three star hotel” he said, “a lot of parents [of University students] come here and they can’t afford to spend 200, 300 dollars a night, but they can spend 100 dollars.”

While Small would not confirm that the new Hyatt Place is going to be significantly more upscale than the Ramada, he suggested that the two hotels were not going to be directly competing.