October 14, 2008
White Lodging, the University of Chicago, and other local organizations and individuals continue to host meeting with members of the community to discuss how a proposed hotel at the Doctor’s Hospital site will affect the neighborhood, the business climate, and the quality of life in and around Hyde Park.
Below are answers to a number of frequently asked questions about the project.
Project and Developer
Respect for Community Aesthetics and Environment
The Doctors’ Hospital Site
The Proposed Hotel Complex
White Lodging was established in 1985 in Merrillville, Indiana by hotel entrepreneur Bruce White. Since then, White Lodging has become a leader in the hotel industry having developed and/or opened more than 130 successful hotel projects across the nation.
White Lodging regularly receives awards for its quality of service, including:
*Indicates multiple awards received
2008 White Lodging milestones:
What is White Lodging proposing for the Doctor’s Hospital Site? White Lodging proposes a two-hotel complex for the site with a combined total of 390 rooms. The Marriott Hotel will contain approximately 260 units and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott will offer approximately 130 units.
Why two hotels? By providing two premium hotel brands within the same development, White Lodging will serve a more diverse customer base (see attached information on the Marriott Hotel and Fairfield Inn & Suites brands). The Marriott Hotel will offer a full service restaurant/lounge and multiple meeting and banquet rooms offering a premium, full-service guest experience at a higher price point, while the Fairfield Inn & Suites offers a more economic choice (room only – complimentary breakfast) for business travelers and groups attending local conferences, family gatherings, and association business. By combining these under a single roof, White Lodging can provide additional amenities and larger meeting/conference room spaces that will be available to the community for special events, facilities and amenities that would otherwise be cost prohibitive.
Are these quality hotels or budget hotels and who are the anticipated customers? Marriott currently enjoys the industry’s largest loyalty-rewards program. This program provides strong incentives for members to stay at Marriott hotels when in the area. We will see a large number of customers using rooms at this location when other Marriott hotels, especially those located downtown, are full. See attached information for further information on the Marriott and Fairfield Inn & Suites brands.
Group related business is expected to come largely from religious, social, fraternal, medical/pharmaceutical and academic/university related associations during the business week. Weekend business will be primarily recreational travel to the local museums and attractions as well as private events held in the area or at the hotel.
What kind of additional facilities will the hotel provide?
In addition to the proposed 390 guestrooms, the hotel complex will include a full-service, three-meal restaurant and lounge available to all guests and general public, more than 12,000 square feet of banquet and meeting room space, and full catering services on site.
What will the hotels look like?
White Lodging has contracted first-tier Chicago-based architects to develop the design of the hotel. At this time, we have not committed to a specific architectural style. However, we have committed to consider fully the context in which the hotel will reside and to solicit input from community members interested in design.
What are the guiding principles of the design and what will be the process for community input?
The guiding principles, in no particular order, include Marriott brand and quality standards, massing studies to determine impact on view corridors and sun exposure, the context of Hyde Park architecture and relationship to the streetscape, traffic flow and parking design, overlay of pedestrian and vehicular circulation, the physical limitation of the site, and the program of the building. The design will be influenced by Marriott’s design review process; local, city and state design guidelines; and public input.
The site is a “location of choice” for many reasons. It is well-positioned near Lake Shore Drive and the Stony Island exit from the Chicago Skyway. The site is on major bus and train lines, readily visible to visitors and travelers. The site possesses excellent views of the lake, the park and other parts of the City, and provides pedestrian access to the lakefront, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the University of Chicago campus and Medical Center. In addition, having direct access to the train station/stop for easy access to/from downtown Chicago is critical, especially for weekend travelers.
Proximity to the University and the Medical Center are critical factors in the success of this project – and in the University’s support. For years, the Medical Center in particular, has felt the need for local hotel choices. Many patients – including many young children – travel long distances for treatment at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Today, families of these patients have few local options for lodging, and often must stay downtown. In the same way, University conferences, meetings, and symposia are often held downtown – far from campus audiences – because of a lack of larger facilities or lodging for out-of-town participants.
The hotels replace a boarded-up structure with a new facility offering services and amenities currently not available in Hyde Park or surrounding communities. We anticipate that the hotels will promote additional local development activity.
Has White Lodging considered other sites?
Yes. While a number of options have been considered, none offer this site’s advantages. Doctor’s Hospital is the preferred site for this project, the only site in Hyde Park that White Lodging will consider for this investment.
Does Doctor’s Hospital have architectural or historical significance?
Doctor’s Hospital (formerly Illinois Central Hospital) was designed by Richard Schmidt and built in 1914. It is rated Orange in the City of Chicago building inventory. That means it possesses an architectural feature or historical association that could be viewed as significant. Orange status, generally requested by preservation-oriented groups or individuals, places a building on a “watch list” when development or demolition is considered. About 9,600 properties are categorized as "Orange" in the City of Chicago.
Doctor’s Hospital is similar to several ‘modern’ hospitals designed at this time by Schmidt. Its exterior construction and design is representative of the early 20th century “Georgian” style with red bricks and white concrete or stone trim comprised of standard, prefabricated components. The original building has been expanded, remodeled, reorganized, modified, and repaired over several incarnations and owners.
The historical significance of the original building has mostly to do with the company that built it – the Illinois Central Railroad. The Illinois Central Hospital chain has been described as everything from a charitable amenity for rural people and railroad employees, to a profit-center run by a greedy railroad that had a captive audience who paid for train rides and then paid for hospital care they couldn’t access any other way. Of little debate is the fact that the Illinois Central Hospitals system was an organization that, despite the makeup of the neighborhood, neither treated nor hired African Americans as recently as the 1960s.
Will Doctor’s Hospital be renovated and refurbished?
No. White Lodging has invested significant resources in evaluating building reuse, preservation, adaptive reuse, renovation, salvage, reconstruction, and combinations of these approaches. The proposal offered by Landmarks Illinois was reviewed thoroughly, and in-depth discussions were held with representatives of Landmarks Illinois. Site visits with a preservation architect and restoration contractor were made, and qualified assessments and estimates of cost were developed for several approaches. After these efforts, all parties agreed that the existing building presented obstacles – the cost to save even a small part of the existing structure proved prohibitive – increasing construction and operations costs and rendering the project impractical.
Are there environmental concerns about Doctor’s Hospital or its site?
As part of the purchase, the University commissioned what is known in the real estate industry as “Phase I” and “Phase II” environmental studies of the Doctor’s Hospital buildings and site. The reports identified contaminants consistent with a building this age. The University will handle pollutant abatement as specified by law, and as recommended for site demolition by the reports. Further, the City of Chicago is very progressive and restrictive in terms of its building code and the requirements for demolition, abatement, and construction – especially with regard to dust control and containment, hours of work, noise levels, protection of adjacent buildings and facilities, street use, site security, and public safety provisions. As with any development and construction project in the city, this project will be planned, executed, and monitored in accordance with all applicable codes and ordinances. This is not only the law; it’s the prudent way to proceed with a development from both neighborhood and risk management perspectives.
The proposed hotel occupies 2/3 of the Doctor’s Hospital Site. What will happen with the remaining land?
It will be landscaped and maintained as green/open space by its owner, the University. The University has no known plans to develop this parcel at this point in time. Any development of this property would be subject to an open and public process necessary to amend the current zoning.
How many hotel rooms per resident are there in Hyde Park and how does this compare with similar markets?
The chart below demonstrates that, other than the Ramada Inn, no hotels are within three miles of Hyde Park. Comparisons of hotel density in other Illinois and Indiana communities are also provided.
Distance from Hyde Park
Quality (1-5 stars)
|Ramada Inn||0.1 miles||3.2||$120/night||2|
|WL Current & Previously Developed/Managed within the region|
|Hilton Garden Inn||7.3||4.7||$242||3|
|Courtyard by Marriott||7.3||no score yet||$299||3|
|Information above extracted from Orbitz.com for a randomly selected weekday in Nov-2008.|
Community / Hotel Density
Tinley Park IL 9 hotels within 3 miles population 48,401 
Waukegan IL 13 hotels within 3 miles population 87,901 
Hammond IN 16 hotels within 3 miles population 83,048 
What are the economic and community benefits generated from a hotel complex?
Quality hotels in Hyde Park will bring additional visitors to the University, Medical Center, local museums and cultural organizations. These visitors will spend money on the South Side (money that would otherwise be spent downtown). In addition, it will make it possible to host special events and parties in the neighborhood. All of this will bring jobs and job training, generate new tax revenue, and promote additional investment and development.
The hotels replace an abandoned structure with a well-lit, 24/7-staffed complex equipped with surveillance equipment and security staff. The hotels will be a source of increased vitality and pedestrian traffic, positive attributes that discourage loitering and undesirable activity.
Is there sufficient market on the South Side to support and sustain a hotel complex with 390 rooms? Why have we not had hotel development before this?
White Lodging has developed over 130 hotels during the last 20 years and has extensive experience in evaluating markets and determining feasibility. Specifically, White Lodging has developed/managed nearly 20 hotels in the Chicago region including four in the North Loop; nine in the immediate suburban markets of Schaumburg, Warrenville, Lake Forest and Oakbrook; and multiple airport locations.
Given this experience, White Lodging has evaluated the Hyde Park location extensively and developed a dual-branded hotel complex that meets the specific needs of the community. We believe that it takes the right brand, right number of total rooms, right location, as well as this kind of mixed-use approach to be successful.
We anticipate several customer groups that are not as susceptible to marketplace forces – specifically the families of patients being treated at the Medical Center, and annual international conventioneers meeting at McCormick Place and other venues for industries that are stable and independent of market cycles (healthcare industry, global manufacturing, etc.). We also anticipate an un-served demand for facilities to host smaller meetings and events of an academic or Medical Center-related nature, as well as neighborhood resident events such as weddings, reunions, and receptions.
What is the role of the University in this project?
The University has long understood the need for local hotel accommodations. The University of Chicago purchased Doctor’s Hospital in 2006 and is willing to lease the property to White Lodging because it supports the development of hotel facilities at that location. The University and the Medical Center are excited about the opportunity to have a quality hotelier like White Lodging working as a valued community partner in Hyde Park.
Has support come from other quarters for this project?
The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the South East Chicago Commission have publicly supported the project, as have a number of community leaders.
We see continued community meetings as a way to listen to local concerns, to receive valuable input, and to build support for the project. Since these meetings began, unsolicited calls in favor of the project continue to be received by both White Lodging and the University. Concerns raised in recent meetings include promoting quality design and construction, preventing traffic and parking problems, and ensuring that demolition and construction have as little impact as possible on neighbors. We intend to continue working with the community to build a productive, long-term relationship.
What about noise control?
The hotel must be designed for maximum protection from noise infiltration into the guestrooms and the banquet/meeting room spaces to eliminate guest dissatisfaction. The minimum standard rating is 55 STC for all exterior walls based on Marriott Standards. The noise protection designed to restrict exterior noise from entering the facility works equally to restrict noise from within the building.
The hotel program does not include exterior meeting/banquet spaces.
What about additional traffic and congestion in the neighborhood?
As part of the development approval process for the City of Chicago Planning Department, White Lodging will have to submit a comprehensive study that addresses traffic and congestion problems.
How will the hotel affect parking in the neighborhood?
The typical hotel guest arrives between the hours of 7–9pm and departs prior to 8am. The following table is extracted from a previous traffic study performed on a Residence Inn that we operate. We would expect a much lower ratio of parking per guestroom, but the table demonstrates the parking pattern as it relates to hours of the day.
Occupied Parking Spaces
Ratio of rooms/spaces
White Lodging has conducted an initial parking study. In addition, White Lodging will work with the University and the Museum of Science & Industry to form parking agreements to accommodate overflow parking needs of the hotel complex.
Will the hotel complex require upgrades to the neighborhood utility infrastructure?
The extensive approval process required to obtain a building permit for the construction of the hotel includes a review by the City of Chicago Building Department. During this review, the City will determine the adequacy of all utilities and infrastructure. Project approval will contingent on the completion of all necessary upgrades.
Will there be restrictions on signage, especially neon signs?
Local ordinances and design guidelines will be used to determine all signage. Should variances be requested, these will be done through the established process of public notification and hearings.
What are plans for hotel garbage storage and removal? Will there be visible bins?
The design of the refuge storage areas will be done to restrict visibility from off-site locations. In previous conceptual designs, the garbage was incorporated within the loading area at the back of the building.
What kinds of monitoring will be done during demolition and construction to protect community residents and passers-by?
The City of Chicago has strict guidelines for both construction and demolition to ensure that maximum protection for the public. White Lodging and the University will utilize only licensed contractors certified to perform the work required for each of these processes.