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Restaurant group addresses concerns on plans to open at once-troubled Eurostar Magnificent Mile Hotel

Restaurant group addresses neighbors' concerns about plans at once-troubled hotel
Restaurant group addresses neighbors' concerns about plans at once-troubled hotel 02:48

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A restaurant group's plans to open a new venue at the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel has come under the microscope.

The River North hotel was a known hotspot for violence during the height of the pandemic. Now, as CBS 2's Tara Molina reported Monday, neighbors are worried about what the plans for a restaurant group moving into the hotel really look like.

The neighbors are concerned about the history of violence and illegal activity at the hotel. We uncovered the fines and sanctions they faced - ultimately settling with the city.

They are in good standing now.

So Molina asked the restaurant group directly about neighbors' concerns.

From shootings inside to violent crimes such as armed robbery and sexual assault, we have told you about issues reported at the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel, 660 N. State St.

Eventually, the city was forced to step in. Guests were required, at one point, to sign agreements at check-in stating they didn't have a weapon and wouldn't throw a party in their room.

On Sept. 1, 2021, the city and hotel reached a settlement. The hotel has been in good standing since the spring of 2022, with a plan of operation addressing those issues in place.

But permits for the LM Restaurant Group to open a new rooftop bar and restaurant at the hotel has a residents concerned again – and reaching out to the city permits.

The hotel workers' union mailed a flyer to residents in the area - concerned about the party venue on the roof, and referring to the hotel as a "bad neighbor."

The union, UNITE HERE Local 1, issued this statement:

"UNITE HERE local 1 is not currently negotiating a contract with the Eurostars Chicago Magnificent Mile. We believe that all hotel workers in Chicago deserve to work for employers who fully comply with local regulations. We also believe that Chicago deserves a hotel industry with high standards. 

"The proposed restaurant and party venue are to be operated by LM River North, LLC as part of LM Restaurant Group. The Eurostars Chicago Magnificent Mile is operated by Golden Mile Hotels, LLC. On the webpage for the proposed Twenty-Six venue on the roof of the Eurostars, LM Restaurant Group advertised that guests could "dance the night away on top of the town." The most recent nuisance abatement plan that Golden Mile Hotels, LLC, signed with the city prohibits 'live or amplified music on the outdoor patio' and operating 'as a nightclub or dance club.' After we alerted the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and Alderman Brendan Reilly, the website was changed to remove the reference to dancing. I have attached a screenshot of the original webpage and the updated version. 

"The Municipal Code of Chicago includes provisions to ensure that neighbors are consulted about new developments. In particular, the code specifies that applicants for public place of amusement and liquor licenses must post notice 'in a place clearly visible from the public way.' Notices about LM River North LLC's public place of amusement and liquor license applications were posted below eye level, behind a valet stand, and between a cloth awning and a metal partition covered in large planter boxes. I have attached photos showing the placement of the notices. We have also informed Alderman Reilly and BACP about the placement of the notices. Based on the application date, the 35-day period in which neighbors can object to either license ends Tuesday, January 10."

A spokesperson for the River North Residents Association said they have heard the same concerns, and "a number of changes to their plan of operation are being recommended." This was their full statement:

"At the end of the day, the goal is to reassure neighbors that their understandable concerns are considered and addressed, while supporting responsible hospitality operators who will contribute to the local economy without negatively impacting quality of life."

"RNRA is well aware of past issues involving the hotel at 660 N State and has been engaged in a dialogue with representatives of LM Restaurant Group and Alderman Reilly's office for several weeks. Based on these ongoing discussions, a number of changes to their plan of operation are being recommended, with the goal of improving security, and mitigating negative external impacts involving noise, lighting, and pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

"Surrounding residents have legitimate concerns based on the history with this location, and one effective way to address such concerns is to ensure that venues are managed by high-quality hospitality operators. LM has operated a number of successful establishments in Chicago, including a restaurant called Troquet at Clark and Huron, without harmful impacts to the surrounding community. The proposed River North Bistro should operate in a similar fashion as a full-service restaurant. The 26th floor space will not be open to the public and will only be used for private, invitation-only gatherings such as corporate events and weddings. The recommended plan of operation would prohibit guest DJs, bottle service, cover charges, entry lines, outdoor amplified music, all-you-can-drink packages, and other elements commonly associated with nightclubs or dance clubs.

"The top priority for RNRA, as we know is also true for Alderman Reilly, is protecting safety and quality of life for those who live and work in this neighborhood. Responsible hospitality operators are welcome in River North, as long as they demonstrate good corporate citizenship."

So we reached out to LM Restaurant Group ourselves and learned there are actually no plans for a top-floor bar or club. A spokesperson said the space on the top floor will only be used for private events…not a late night bar or club.

LM Restaurant Group director of branding and communications Lauren Hammond issued this statement:

"LM Restaurant Group is excited to be opening two projects at the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel in River North. Twenty Six, the event venue on the top floor, will be for private events only and is well suited for corporate meetings, cocktail receptions and small weddings. LM Catering & Events, the team behind Chicago event venues, City View Loft, Lacuna Events, LM Studio and the upcoming Sky on Nine in Rosemont, will handle all food and beverage operations at Twenty Six, outside catering will not be permitted. 

"The ground floor restaurant, River North Bistro, is a family friendly American bistro focusing on approachable contemporary cuisine. It is the second location of LM's popular bistro concept which can also be seen at Grant Park Bistro, located on the ground floor of the Le Méridien Essex. Other restaurants in LM's portfolio include Land & Lake Kitchen, on the ground floor of the LondonHouse Hotel, Land & Lake Andersonville, Land & Lake Ravenswood and the forthcoming Land & Lake Rosemont in the newly renovated Holiday Inn/Staybridge Suites in Rosemont. 

Having previously owned and operated a restaurant in River North for a number of years, Troquet River North in the Hotel Felix, LM is excited to be back in the neighborhood and looks forward to once again being a part of this vibrant community for many years to come."

We never heard back from the Eurostars Hotel.

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