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McHugh Construction Completes Korean-Based Lotte Hotels & Resorts’ First Stateside Lifestyle Hotel in Downtown Chicago

June 25, 2024

Chicago, IL — Chicago-based McHugh Construction has completed the multimillion dollar renovation of a 191-room, 14-story hotel at Wacker and Wabash avenues in Chicago, which opened in June as L7 Chicago, South Korea-based Lotte Hotels & Resorts’ first L7-branded property in North America. McHugh also built out Perilla Korean American Steakhouse, the hotel’s anchor restaurant on the ground floor, as well as a new lobby.

“We leaned into our extensive adaptive reuse experience to transform this 112-year-old building into Chicago’s first hotel dedicated to Korean culture and hospitality,” said Kathleen Arnold, McHugh project manager. “For instance, we maximized the project’s unusual crawlspaces and basement level to place ductwork and exhaust systems for the Korean BBQ grill tables used throughout the Perilla steakhouse.”

In late August 2023, McHugh began demolition of the restaurant and lobby of the former Kimpton Hotel Monaco at 225 N. Wabash Ave. and erected temporary walls, so the hotel remained in operation throughout the renovation. Using a waterfall approach, McHugh started renovating the top floor in November 2023 and worked its way down one floor at a time. Hotel rooms, suites and corridors received new carpet, wall coverings, finishes and furniture; signature window seats in each room were reupholstered; and aqua-green tiles were installed on the wall alongside each guest room door.

McHugh collaborated with interior designer New York-based AvroKO and project architect Chicago-based Grec Architects to create L7’s tranquil, calm atmosphere that is supported through a sage green and crème color palette. With an eye toward attracting millennials, the hotel’s lobby was designed with a relaxing living room vibe. McHugh achieved this aesthetic by replacing marble tiles with a wood floor laid in a block pattern and surrounding the lobby fireplace with aqua-green glazed tiles from floor to ceiling. Warm wood trim and acoustic tile were added to the walls of the lobby’s seating area, and forest green floor tiles cut in a radius design accent a seating area in the middle of the lobby. A reception desk made of carved wood complements the space.

Opposite the lobby, the Perilla Korean American Steakhouse is filled with custom grill tables surrounded by banquette seating, a bar and a chef’s counter that offers a tasting menu. The steakhouse’s décor features a color scheme of plum, green and cream with acoustical panels to soften conversational noise levels. McHugh installed a black iron duct system connected to exhaust tubing at each grill table and added an air unit on the roof to pull in fresh outside air. Since the building is surrounded by high-rises, McHugh facilitated installation of the 25,000-pound air unit on the roof via helicopter.

“Like many cities where we work, Chicago’s hospitality business is making a strong comeback. It’s this perfect blend of lifestyle and experiential travel, business travel, and recreational and political events that are all happening right now and have shined a spotlight on our growing hospitality division,” said Kate Ivanova, McHugh’s executive vice president who oversees McHugh’s robust hospitality portfolio of over 100 completed projects, including new construction and renovations for Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Ritz-Carlton and Peninsula Chicago. “Of course, our experience and reputation in hotel renovations is certainly a benefit to our clients and is one of the reasons we were selected to transform this property into an L7 hotel.”

Located steps from the Chicago Riverwalk and the Magnificent Mile, the 14-story building constructed in 1912 is one of 50 landmarks featured in Living Landmarks of Chicago and served as a hat factory and headquarters of D.B. Fisk Co., the largest wholesale millinery in the country until 1932. The building was converted to the Oxford House Hotel in the 1950s. Ironically, McHugh served as general contractor of its conversion to Hotel Monaco shortly after Kimpton acquired the building in 1999, and McHugh performed a refresh of the guest rooms around 2011. Lotte Hotels & Resorts acquired the property in 2022 and hired McHugh for its conversion to an L7 hotel.

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