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CHICAGO-Hotels have been a hard sell in the current financing market as occupancies were heading south before Sept. 11. Nonetheless, Orlando-based Hard Rock Café International is teaming with Mark IV Realty here to turn the Carbide and Carbon Building at 230 N. Michigan Ave. into a 385-room hotel.

Led by US Bank, Midwest Bank & Trust and Parkway Bank & Trust also are participating in financing the $86-million renovation of the building designed by Daniel Burnham in 1929. Renovation begins later this month with completion of the project targeted for the second quarter of 2003.

Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Alicia Berg says the city is chipping in with $5 of tax increment financing assistance as well as a “Class L” incentive worth another $6.1 million for the first North Michigan Avenue hotel built south of the Chicago River since the 1960s. “We are excited that the Hard Rock is restoring the historic façade of the Carbide and Carbon Building to its original grandeur and creating a vibrant urban entertainment destination in one of our most vital locations,” Berg says.

Tackling the Carbide and Carbon Building renovation is a departure on more than one level for Hard Rock Café International, whose hotel properties are located in resort areas such as Orlando, Las Vegas, Bali as well as an opening in Thailand this year. “Chicago is the perfect city for Hard Rock’s first urban hotel,” says President and CEO Peter Beaudrault, adding the location’s proximity to the theatre district and eventual Millennium Park.

Mark IV Realty was involved in the redevelopment of Marina City, which besides its twin 60-story condominium towers includes the House of Blues music venue and hotel.

The design team includes Lucien Lagrange, whose architectural work has included the Park Hyatt further north on Michigan Avenue; and Jeffrey Beers, whose restaurant designs include China Grills and Rumjungle at Mandalay Bay. Beers also redesigned the 15-year-old Hard Rock Café restaurant at 63 W. Ontario St. last year.

Hard Rock Hotels and Resorts Senior Director Jim Biggar will oversee the hiring of the Chicago property’s management team.

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