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In 2015, the Obama administration designated the Historic Pullman District a national monument, making it part of the National Park System; it would later become the Pullman National Historical Park in 2022. Already designated as a Chicago landmark, it is estimated to attract 300,000 visitors annually. However, despite this steady pace of visitors, the neighborhood has long lacked a necessary tourism staple: a hotel.
Enter the Pullman Hotel Group. The development group is working on a 100+ room hotel on the north end of Pullman, on 111th Street and Doty Avenue, that will be part of the Hampton by Hilton chain. The hotel will include amenities like a workout room, a pool, daily hot breakfast, and a business center with printing and meeting services.
“It would be quite a missed opportunity if we had 300,000 visitors just coming to that national park and there’s no place for people to stay,” said Andre Garner, principal for the Pullman Hotel Group. He adds that the South Side has long suffered from a dearth of hotels south of Hyde Park, particularly those operated under nationally branded chains.
In 2022, the project received a $100,000 grant from the Trust’s Pre-Development Fund, which supports commercial real estate development projects, businesses with brick-and-mortar needs, and neighborhood-scale land-use projects that aim to stimulate economic activity in disinvested neighborhoods. The project also received $5 million from the City of Chicago’s Recovery Grant Program.
Garner estimates the project will provide 70 jobs during construction and 20-25 permanent jobs when the hotel is up and running. However, he underscores that the hotel’s greater economic impact will be its ability to attract other restaurants and hospitality businesses to the area.
“We anticipate being a further catalyst for the growth and development of the Pullman and the far South Side communities in general,” he said.
For Garner, the desire to bring a hotel into Pullman goes back to 2008 when he was looking to develop one on 85th Street and even had a feasibility study conducted. However, the Great Recession would prevent the project from proceeding.
An opportunity to revive the project came about in 2019 when Garner received a call from David Doig, president of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), and his former colleague at the City of Chicago. CNI worked on some commercial and retail development in the area, including the Pullman Community Center. The Center had signed a contract to host amateur sports tournaments, which meant traveling families would need a place to stay overnight.
“The hotel has been an aspiration of the community for over a decade, and it is fantastic to see it finally come to fruition, “said Doig.
The project is expected to start construction sometime over the summer of 2023, with the goal of opening the hotel in 2024.
A long-time South Side resident, Garner says the support from residents has been incredible. Even outside of work, he and his family, who reside in West Pullman, have received many positive comments from neighbors and fellow churchgoers.
“We’ve had folks in the community thank us and wish us the best on the project,” he said. “There’s been nothing but excitement since it was announced.”