A 29-story hotel tower planned in Streeterville made its public debut at an online community meeting on Thursday night. Slated for a long-vacant lot just off the Mag Mile at 150 E. Ontario Street, the 345-foot proposal calls for 388 guest rooms and no on-site parking.

Chicago developer the Prime Group, Inc. will build the project for RIU Hotels & Resorts, a family-owned global hotel operator based in Spain. The development will be known as the RIU Plaza Hotel Chicago and will cater to international travelers that often book through RIU's affiliated travel agency.

"RIU is very intent on Chicago being one of their U.S. beachheads," said Mike Reschke chairman and CEO of Prime Group. "I think it's a great opportunity for them, and it's a great opportunity for the city and the neighborhoods to fill what has been a vacant lot for many years."

A rendering of the RIU Plaza Hotel Chicago. Lucien Lagrange Architects

For the RIU project, Reschke is teaming up with Chicago's Lucien Lagrange Architects. The developer and design firm have a history of working together on downtown projects like 10 East Delaware, the JW Marriott, and the Waldorf Astoria.

The design of 150 E. Ontario uses precast concrete and granite for its base and architectural concrete for the upper floors, which is textured to give the appearance of stone blocks. There will be a large entryway and coffee shop at ground level as well as an "ornamental" staircase that leads to a second-floor breakfast room, explained My-Nga Lam, a designer with Lagrange.

The development team has been working on the project for two years. During that time, they've incorporated feedback from 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly and the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.  

The design progression for the RIU Plaza Hotel Chicago over the past two years. Lucien Lagrange Architects

Lam shared a slide showing the evolution of the design and highlighted changes such as reducing the height from 401 feet, cutting the guest rooms down from 458, revising the design of the crown, and eliminating the ballroom to curb non-guest traffic.

Several attendees of the meeting blasted the design for looking dated and too reliant on classical architecture. Lucien Lagrange seemed to shrug off the negative comments as simply a matter of personal taste. 

"We do get criticized, but on the other hand we've had success and there are a lot of people who love what we do," said the 81-year-old French-born architect. "Some people say they don't want it, but we don't want to do another glass box."

A ground-level rending of the RUI Plaza proposal.

Zoning for the Ontario Street site is currently DX-12 Downtown Mixed-Use and will not change under the plan. The project will need to go through the city's approval process so the developers can purchase additional density (an extra 6.4 points of FAR) by contributing $2.8 million to Chicago's Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.

The developers hope to see their hotel go before the Chicago Plan Commission in May, provided Ald. Reilly and the Planning Department raise no further objections. If approvals go as planned, Reschke said he expects to start construction this summer or fall and open in mid-2023. 

The Chicago location would be the globe's ninth RIU Plaza Hotel. The brand currently operates hotels in New York, San Francisco, Miami Beach, Berlin, Dublin, Madrid, Guadalajara, and Panama City.

The vacant lot at 150 E. Ontario Street as it appears today. Google Street View