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Owner of downtown Chicago hotel invests millions in renovations to draw customers

Downtown Chicago hotel undergoing millions in renovations to draw customers
Downtown Chicago hotel undergoing millions in renovations to draw customers 02:11

CHICAGO (CBS) – It's no secret that Chicago has a bit of a reputation for crime, that, plus pandemic struggles have led to vacancy signs downtown.

One business owner is looking beyond the headlines and is digging in with a big investment. Morning Insider Lauren Victory found out why.

CBS 2 got behind-the-scenes access to a multi-million-dollar renovation in the Loop. Scott Greenberg is funding the project inside theWit Hotel.

Victory: "It's not just swapping out the carpet and repainting the room?"

Greenberg: "It's not even close to that."

The hotel is the one with the lightning bolts on the corner of State and Lake.

"If you want to stand out from the pack, you have to spend money," Greenberg said. "You have to make the investments and you have to do something that's really intended to wow people."

The wow factor for Greenberg means stripping 300 rooms down to the studs, then building them back up. It'll be fresh, with funky features from the bedside to the hallways.

Victory: "What was here before?"

Greenberg: "So this was just a blank wall so this was all built out."

The lobby is being redesigned too. Again, these luxury finishes cost millions of dollars and the bill is continuing to grow.

Victory: "Those are real flowers?"

Greenberg: "Those are real flowers!"

Taking a step back from the excitement, CBS 2 had to ask Greenberg why he's spending all this money at a time when Chicago's downtown struggles with crime and empty storefronts.

Victory: "Does it all make you nervous that if you go down State Street a little bit, there's some vacant signs?"

Greenberg: "We have hundreds and hundreds of people coming here every day just for our hotel rooms."

In other words, he feels secure. TheWit's rooftop bar constantly draws in crowds beyond hotel guests and he said safety has been top of mind for years.

"We always have eyes on the street, both our staff and everybody else," Greenberg said. "The exterior of this hotel is well-lit."

Renovations are supposed to wrap up this month, just in time for an action-packed summer, whatever that may bring.

The renovation will cause the cost of hotel rooms at theWit to go up, but the team refused to tell CBS 2 by how much.

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