Evanston Economic Development officials are excited at an outside investors group’s purchase of the Hilton Orrington and their plans to renovate the once-glamorous hotel, which until recent years filled an important niche in the city’s economic picture.
Paul Zalmezak, the city’s Economic Development Manager, and Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtownevanston.org, which markets and promotes the downtown district, both spoke with representatives from the new owner and told of plans for substantial renovation to the property.
Zalmezak said in the conversation he talked with people in the new group two weeks ago and the owners indicated they were going to be spending between $10 million to $20 million on renovation, with special focus on the rooms “which all need an upgrade.”
He said the group expressed a desire to establish the hotel as the crown jewel it once was, noting that on the day of the foreclosure purchase, crews were already out, washing windows and doing landscaping at the property. “So I feel like they’re on the right path here,” he said.
Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Oklahoma-based real estate investor Mark Beffort bought the 269-room hotel at 1710 Orrington Ave. for a reported $34 million and also agreed to buy the 408-room Westin Chicago Northwest in a sale of distressed hotel properties.
Olshan Properties, the previous owner of the property, had bought the Hilton Orrington in December 2015 for a reported $60 million. In February of last year founder Morton Olshan said he planned to give up control of the hotel in the face of a nearly $50 million lawsuit alleging failure to make foreclosure payments, Crain’s reported.
Coakley said the same company presided over the extensive renovation of the 531-room landmark Martinique Hotel on New York’s Broadway in what was described as a “top to bottom” transformation on one business website.
She said a renovated Hilton Orrington would be great boost to the city’s efforts to attract business conferences as Evanston recovers from COVID-19. In addition, news of the sale comes as Rotary International employees are returning to their offices three days a week, also buoying hopes of a recovery.