Lincolnwood trustees agreed to hold off on the demolition of the famed Purple Hotel last week as they wait to see if a last minute proposal can be struck with a developer and the village regarding safety as well as economics.
The trustees had the right to go ahead and proceed with razing the iconic building at the intersection of Lincoln and Touhy Avenues which has been abandoned – – since 2007. However, Skokie developer Jake Weiss successfully lobbied the trustees to put off moving ahead with the demolition until April 4th, when the village board is scheduled to meet next.
Between now and then, Weiss and his legal team will meet with village representatives including attorney Steve Elrod and Trustee Larry Elster in an attempt to strike a deal to prevent the demolition from proceeding. If Weiss does get control, he said he is willing to spend upwards of $20 million on a redevelopment.
The result was a partial victory for Weiss as his team had originally asked for a 60-day deferral on the actual demolition, but trustees were only willing to go until early April.
“I’m happy the village is ready to sit down and discuss options that [they're] comfortable with the site while we work out an agreement,” Weiss said. “The village is a very reasonable entity and I am sure they will be as accommodating as possible.”
As for only getting a month to work out an arrangement, Weiss was not upset. “I have to respect the village has a direction they have to follow to protect the residents and I am happy to be part of the process,” he said.
Trustees were distressed the property has been subject to vandalism recently. Eliminating the building would then take out some of the safety concerns.
“We’ve waited so long to do this,” Elster said. “Demolition costs could go up. My biggest concern is that this is about a property you don’t own.”
Another question hanging over the process whether Weiss can obtain the two parcels of property that he and his associates do not have yet at a bankruptcy hearing. Weiss is convinced he can, but there are no absolute guarantees.
“What no one can predict and no one can guarantee is who will emerge at the end,” Elrod added.
Two adjacent parcels to the Purple Hotel are now in the hands of Resort Properties, but facing foreclosure by Foster Bank. But Weiss and his partner - North Capital Group - hold the note to Purple Hotel property and he believes he can win the auction for the other two properties on May 15th, which explains why the Weiss group wanted the 60-day deferral.
Lincolnwood officials would like to see all of the parcels under one ownership group if the current structure remains in place.
“The village wants the property owned by one developer instead of a hodgepodge in order to have a consolidated development over there,” Mayor Jerry Turry added.
Weiss presented a series of artist’s renderings about what he wants to do with the property, which would be a gut rehab that would preserve the purple exterior. There would be 278 hotel rooms and a 40,000 square foot banquet hall along with two retail spaces overall.
A steady group of residents told the board they wanted to see the property redeveloped.
“I’ve seen the print up of what they want to do and I think it is remarkable,” said Jeff Horvitz, a Lincolnwood resident for 50 years. “In this economy everyone is looking for growth and these gentlemen have the funding, expertise and willingness to make it beautiful.”
There are also supporters who have gone so far as to put up a Web site to get their point across.
If Weiss can get strike a deal with the village to hold off demolition and subsequently take control of all three properties, the plan would have to go through the regular approval process including being reviewed by the plan commission and endorsed by the village board.
If the project can be done, Turry is excited about the prospect.
“I believe the development has great potential to fill a niche in the entire region from the north side of Chicago to Lake County and it was important because of the interest of the community residents and the village’s economic development commission to postpone demolition because of the interest they expressed at the meeting,” he said.