Project on former Purple Hotel site to have Amazon Fresh store, apartments – Crain’s Chicago Business

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Don’t call it the Purple Hotel site anymore. It’s District 1860 now.

A development joint venture has scored construction financing for a $155 million project on the site of the notorious Lincolnwood hotel that will include 299 apartments and an Amazon Fresh grocery store. The parcel’s fate has been in limbo for nearly 15 years, with redevelopment plans frustrated by multiple lawsuits, bankruptcy and planning snafus.

But Chicago-based Tucker Development, which jumped in about three years ago, has accomplished what other developers couldn’t. Tucker has lined up an equity partner, Los Angeles-based AECOM-Canyon Partners, and a $101 million construction loan from Pacific Western Bank, also based in Los Angeles, said Tucker CEO Richard Tucker. Construction is underway and expected to wrap up in 2023.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Tucker said. “We are full-bore ahead.”

The project also will receive some major financial help from the Village of Lincolnwood, which approved a $31 million tax-increment financing subsidy for it in 2019.

The project at the corner of Lincoln and Touhy avenues will include the Amazon Fresh store and 40,000 square feet of additional ground-floor retail space. Two restaurants, Fatpour Tap Works and Fat Rosie’s, have leased about 15,000 square feet. Potential tenants for the remaining 25,000 square feet include fitness concepts, service retailers and more restaurants, Tucker said.

“We’ve had a lot more interest now that we’ve broken ground,” he said.

The Purple Hotel site has attracted a lot of interest over the years, but not always the good kind. Known for its bright purple facade, the hotel, which opened in 1960, was fashionable for a while, hosting celebrities including Barry Manilow and Roberta Flack, who performed there.

But many people remember it as the place where reputed Mafia associate Allen Dorfman was shot to death in 1983 and political fixer Stuart Levine hosted marathon parties with a cornucopia of sex and drugs. The hotel closed in 2007 and was razed in 2013.

Other developers hatched plans to redevelop the site, but legal and financial setbacks, including a trip through Bankruptcy Court, got in the way. Tucker stepped in in 2018.

Tucker named the project District 1860 in honor of Abraham Lincoln, for whom Lincolnwood is named. Lincoln was first elected president in 1860.

Tucker pursued the project partly because of its “phenomenal” location at a busy intersection. An average of 45,000 cars pass by daily on Touhy and 15,000 drive past every day on Lincoln. That should be a draw for retailers, along with the apartments above, which should provide a built-in customer base. On the flip side, the Amazon Fresh and restaurants are amenities that could help lease up the project’s apartments.

“It’s an urban-activity environment in a suburban market,” Tucker said.

The development site also includes a parcel along Lincoln for a future hotel. Tucker would bring in a hotel developer to build the hotel rather than do it on its own.

“We’re already in discussions with a few different players,” Tucker said.