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Hopkins gives thumbs-down to hotel conversion for Streeterville landmark

Owner says he’ll keep operating 227 E. Walton Place as rentals.

A 1956 marketing brochure for 227 E. Walton Place.
A 1956 marketing brochure promoted the building at 227 E. Walton Place as “contemporary in the better sense” and touted that it brought back “the pleasant features so often neglected in ‘modern’ apartments.”
Commission on Chicago Landmarks report

After a Chicago alderman registered his opposition to a hotel conversion of a landmark building in Streeterville, the investor behind the plan said Monday he’s dropping the idea.

Jerry Wise, chairman of Los Angeles-based Brad Management, said he will continue operating the 13-story building at 227 E. Walton Place as rentals. “The people don’t want it, so we’ll keep it as apartments just like everything else in the neighborhood,” he said.

The 25-unit building, built in 1956, was designed by prominent architect Harry Weese. The city designated it a landmark in 2012, saying in a report that it “combines modernist design with references to past architecture, highly unusual and inventive in the context of 1950s-era Chicago high-rise architecture.”

Apartment building at 227 E. Walton St.
How the building at 227 E. Walton Place appears now.
Google Streetview

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) told constituents in an email that he opposes any zoning changes for the property. Wise had sought a zoning classification to permit a hotel conversion. Aldermen typically have almost total control over zoning within their wards.

Hopkins held a community meeting on the topic last month, where he said neighbors voiced their opposition “loud and clear.” He said a hotel use would change “the residential charm” of the Walton stretch between Michigan Avenue and the lakefront.

“Given the historical significance of the building, my office and I will keep an open dialogue with the owner of the building to ensure that they are able to restore the building in a way that preserves the residential character of the block,” Hopkins said.

The city landmarks report said Weese was both the architect and, with developer John Baird, an investor in the building when it opened. It said 227 E. Walton was converted to condos in 1969. Affiliates of Wise’s company own all the condo units.

Notable downtown Chicago buildings Weese designed include the Time-Life Building and the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist. He died in 1998.

Architect Harry Weese.
Architect Harry Weese.
Sun-Times files