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CHICAGO-The Alter Group, headquartered in Skokie, has acquired a 3.7-acre parcel at Cermak Road and Prairie Avenue. The property was purchased from New York City investors, says Matthew Ward, SVP at Alter. The cost to acquire the land was reportedly $70 million. Alter plans to construct a hotel development on the site with an estimated cost between $400 million and $500 million, Ward tells GlobeSt.com.

The site is “an entire city block essentially directly north and adjacent to the brand new, beautiful McCormick Place expansion,” Ward says. The project will have two hotel towers that are expected to be 22 stories each. The site, which is in a TIF district and is already zoned for hotels, is expected to have about 1,500 rooms, he says. One tower may have 1,000 rooms as a traditional convention center hotel with the other tower having 500 rooms as possibly an extended stay or other type of hotel, he says.

The development will also likely have meeting space, possibly a ballroom, retail space, restaurants and parking. Plans are in the preliminary stage and the amount of meeting and ballroom space are the “hardest to solve and predict how we will solve,” he says. The amount of retail space is not decided yet as well. “The South Loop is really changing and it is really becoming a 24-hour community,” Ward says. “We are trying to understand right now as to exactly what the demand would be.” Construction could begin in 12 to 18 months, with construction expecting to take two years.

With the expansion of McCormick Place, and the city being proactive, Chicago is becoming a “front runner” with Orlando and Las Vegas for conventions, Ward says. “McCormick Plaza has grown to probably the premiere conference center in the US in terms of capacity, infrastructure and amenities,” he says. “What it is lacking is a large concentration of hotel rooms.”

The only other hotel in the area is the 600-room Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. “Adding large blocks of corporate hotel space in walking distance or in physical connectivity to McCormick Place will further enhance and strengthen the convention center’s ability to win and bring in new conventions,” Ward says. Alter is working with the city on “exactly how we can connect [the hotel] to the convention center,” he says.

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