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Alderman slams ‘weak slap on the wrist’ against hotel-turned-party-haven

Ald. Brendan Reilly called the settlement with the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel an insult, considering the severity of the violations. Allegations against patrons include armed robbery, criminal sexual assault, aggravated domestic battery and unlawful use of weapons.

Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel, 660 N. State St.
People living near the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel, 660 N. State St., have been complaining to the local alderman, Brendan Reilly, about the behavior of some guests.
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A Gold Coast hotel has gotten what an influential alderman called a “weak slap on the wrist” — a $10,000 fine and a pledge to implement a “nuisance abatement plan” — after its patrons were accused of committing criminal acts at the hotel, its parking facility and adjacent property.

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said the settlement agreement that allows the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel to continue operating is an insult, considering the severity and duration of the violations at the hotel, 660 N. State St.

That includes 16 allegations of criminal conduct by hotel patrons beginning last fall and continuing until early March this year. Among those allegations: armed robbery, criminal sexual assault, aggravated domestic battery, narcotics possession and numerous instances of unlawful use of weapons and failing to report lost firearms.

Under the abatement plan, the hotel will: install a video surveillance system and alarms on stairwells and emergency exits; block access to the elevator from the ground floor; and limit elevator access to people with room keys.

Guests will be required to sign and abide by a “no-gun and no-party policy.” They also can’t pay for their room in cash — a credit card with an embedded computer chip will be required. Also, balconies must be made inaccessible to guests.

The hotel also must monitor noise levels and outdoor premises; close the doors to the outdoor patio after 7 p.m. when music is playing; and prohibit live or amplified music. Also, the outdoor patio at the hotel’s 26th floor lounge will “cease operation” at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at midnight on Friday and Saturday.

“I’m not satisfied at all,” Reilly wrote in a text message to the Sun-Times. “I think $10K is a weak slap on the wrist for the hotel, considering it’s been a constant source of problems for the neighborhood over the past 18 months.”

Noting that, “I don’t sign off on these things,” Reilly added: “I would’ve preferred a lengthy license suspension or a revocation to send the message that irresponsible hotel license holders will be held accountable and penalties will be stiff. It’s a disappointing outcome and I’m as disappointed as my constituents are.”

The settlement was announced at Wednesday’s virtual meeting of the Mayor’s License Disciplinary Commission.

Chris Leach, an attorney representing the hotel, and Patricia Cereijo, the hotel’s general manager, could not be reached for comment.

In a newsletter to his constituents previewing the hearing, Reilly said the city conducted “eleven task force inspections” at the hotel over a one-year period.

He pointed to “numerous reports” of large gatherings, guests throwing bottles from and lighting fires on balconies and a River North traffic stop that culminated in the arrest of six people for handgun possession. All were guests at the Eurostars Magnificent Mile, Reilly said.

Last fall, Reilly warned that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision to close restaurants and bars to indoor patrons had driven partiers underground.

Reilly argued then that “lots of kids” were taking advantage of “cheap” rates at Chicago hotels and Airbnb properties to hold parties that could become “super-spreader” events.

“A few hotels have turned this into a business model,” the alderman said then.

Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, responded to Reilly’s complaints by saying his members are doing all they could to rein in partygoers.

“We have to be very careful around discriminating in any way. If they’re above the age required to check in, we can’t say, ‘You carry certain tendencies that make us think you might party, so we’re not letting you check in,’” Jacobson said.

“If you call from a room and say, ‘There’s a loud noise next to me. I think there’s a party going on,’ the hotel immediately sends security up there to investigate and kick the people out if it is, indeed, a party. I don’t think it’s happening as much as [Reilly] necessarily says. But it is happening, don’t get me wrong. And as soon as a hotel finds out about it, they kick out that party.”

At the time, Jacobson pointed to “instances of crime and violence outside” Chicago hotels as evidence of the security crackdown inside.

“Once we’ve evicted a group out of a hotel and put them on the street, there’s fights that happen in front of the hotel,” he said.

“Of course, the headline reads that violence has happened outside of that particular hotel. But that was a result of us actually kicking that group out. We can’t escort them home afterwards.”