Plans for a major expansion and rehabilitation of the North Shore Retirement Hotel won unanimous support from a city review panel Wednesday.

The plan from the hotel’s new owner, Horizon Realty Group, calls for building an eight-story addition at the north end of the 1611 Chicago Ave. property — where an open-air swimming pool now is located.

Top: A member of the city’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee looks at a rendering of the eight-story addition, shown to the left of the existing building’s north wing. Above: An aerial view of the hotel from Google Maps.

Horizon owners Dan and Jeff Michael told the Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee the existing building has 185 units — but 60 or more of them have no baths or kitchens and are very small.

The rehab project, Dan Michael said, will combine some of those units to provide a total of 140, all with kitchens and baths.

With the addition, the expanded building will have a total of 205 apartment units, according to documents provided to the city.

Dan and Jeff Michael of Horizon Realty Group awaiting the start of Wednesday’s meeting.

The Michaels said the building’s existing amenities are dated and that the addition will allow the property to offer amenities that competing independent living retirement facilities provide today

The addition, they said, would maintain some open space for the existing tapas restaurant at the north end of the building and will have 2,600 square feet of retail space along the sidewalk.

Inside the ground level, the addition will feature a “winter garden” and an indoor pool with locker facilities.

Project architect Steve Pantazis holds a rendering of the planned Winter Garden.

Jeff Michael said plans also include restoring the hotel’s ballroom and creating a separate entrance for it off Davis Street.

“We feel it’s sorely underutilized right now. People have forgotten that the North Shore has the ballroom. We want to put it back on the map, have weddings and parties there, and make it an elegant, attractive destination.

He said another goal of having the separate entrance would be to provide some separation between functions in the ballroom and resident areas, “so we don’t disturb them.”

City Planner Dennis Marino noted that the owners have completed a traffic study for the project and plan to lease spaces in the city’s Church Street garage, adding that the hotel “currently doesn’t generate a whole lot of cars, because not many residents drive.”

SPARC Committee Chair Walter Hallen described the project as a “tremendous improvement” to the property.

The project will require approval as a planned development. It next goes to the Plan Commission and then to the City Council for a final decision.

Horizon Realty Group bought the property last September for $8.8 million.

Related story

Evanston’s North Shore Hotel has new owner

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. Restaurant patio

      Actually, the story says that an outdoor space will be maintained for the tapas restaurant…

  1. Concerned neighbors

    I'm looking forward to seeing the "concerned neighbors" come out to oppose  this project.   

    I'm assuming that Judy Fiske will join the cause, given her fight against Mather.

    In the end, we'll see it approved by council.  8-1 or 7-2.

    1. Project height

      One of the usual complaints about downtown projects — that they're too tall — won't carry much weight for this one — which fits within the 85-foot height limit prescribed for the D4 zoning district it is located in.

      — Bill

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