New life coming to Hotel Lincoln in Lincoln Park

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Exterior of a former Days Inn, 1816 N. Clark St., photographed Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 , in Chicago | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

A former second-rate hotel in Lincoln Park is getting a face-lift and will soon to be ready for its close-up with the neighborhood.

The new owners and operators of the Hotel Lincoln, 1816 N. Clark, promise a mix of old-school comfort and a California vibe when it opens in March. The 184-room hotel will be operated by Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a San Francisco-based chain establishing its first outpost east of the Mississippi River.

The owners are the Chicago firms AJ Capital Partners and Centrum Properties. Joie de Vivre is an investment of Hyatt hotels heir John Pritzker.

Michael Crandall, principal of AJ Capital, said the hotel will appeal to tourists drawn to the city’s North Side and to those who are visiting nearby residents.

“We see it as a second or third bedroom for the residents,” Crandall said. He said the rooms are meant to give guests the sense of staying in a private home.

The renovation also will try to make it a gathering place. The 12-story building is getting a rooftop bar and event space. Other additions will include a lobby lounge and coffee bar.

Whatever the final effect, the hotel will be different from its most recent incarnation as a Days Inn.

Records show the owners took over the property in late 2010 in an $11.4 million deal.

The place has been closed for about six years as the property was caught up with a prior investor sentenced for running a Ponzi scheme. But it was on a downward slide for years and some neighbors regarded it as little more than a transient hotel.

Yet it enjoys views of Lincoln Park. General Manager Bob Shelley said the hotel hopes to get rates of from $129 to $179 a night.

He said the hotel will be connected to the existing Perennial Virant restaurant, which will provide room service.

The Hotel Lincoln is the property’s original name. Marketing materials for the former hotel indicate the building dates from the 1920s.

Among its former guests is Chicago author David Mamet, who described life there in a collection of essays he wrote called “The Cabin.” Mamet worked at a real estate firm while living there, an experience that inspired his play “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

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