City officials voted Wednesday to delay final approval of plans to expand the North Shore Hotel for a week while the owner’s architects develop answers to some last-minute design questions.
A planned development ordinance for the project was approved by the City Council last summer, but construction of the addition has been on hold while the owners complete extensive renovation work to the existing building.
Project architect John Myefski said the plans for the addition have been modified slightly — retaining the total of 65 apartment units, but shifting the mix to include three more two-bedroom units on the top floor.
The planned addition on the left and a portion of the existing building, to the right in a rendering.
The changes also shift a rooftop garden that had been proposed for the top floor of the addition to a second floor location in the courtyard adjacent to the existing building.
Community Development Director Mark Muenzer raised several concerns about the plans, ranging from the blank appearance of the north wall of the building to the design of the cornice of the addition.
The cornice, Muenzer said, looked too much like the “top hat” that had drawn criticism from neighbors when it was included the planned design of the extended stay hotel recently approved for the next block south on Chicago Avenue.
The Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee also heard about plans to redo the canopy over the existing hotel entrance on Chicago Avenue and the marquee over the Davis Street entrance.
The Chicago Avenue design will feature the hotel’s new name, The Merion, while the Davis Street entrance will feature the Crystal Ballroom name of the hotel’s renovated event space.
The existing and proposed designs for the Davis Street entrance.
Walter Hallen, the city’s project management supervisor, said he’d “always been disturbed” by the half-timbered look of the hotel entrance and is “really glad to see it go.”
But Carlos Ruiz, the city’s preservation coordinator, said he thought the new design should do more to restore the original look of the front entrance.
Myefski said he’d take another look at historic pictures of the building and “do a little more with color” on the design. But he said the current look of the entrance is completely different from the original.
The committee is scheduled to take another look at the project next Wednesday.