New hotel planned at Travelers Inn site
by SEAN KEENEHAN
Lakhani Hospitality is planning to build a Holiday Inn Express and Suites hotel on the former site of its Travelers Inn motel, 7247 N. Waukegan Road, Niles, and the adjacent site of the former Ozzie’s Bar and Grill restaurant.
The Travelers Inn was built more than 40 years ago, and the company purchased the motel in 2008 and the vacant Ozzie’s restaurant in 2012. The company closed the motel on Feb. 28, and it plans to open the new hotel in April of 2016.
The company operates three other Holiday Inn hotels, including the Holiday Inn O’Hare, the Holiday Inn Skokie and the Holiday Inn Oak Brook. The new hotel will feature 83 rooms, 17 suites, 1,500 square feet of meeting space, an "Express Start" breakfast buffet, a business center, a fitness center and a swimming pool.
The Holiday Inn Express brand focuses on offering limited services that are catered to business travelers and short-term customers. Lakhani Hospitality assistant director of operations Karim Lakhani said that limited lot space for building a restaurant or banquet facility was one of the reasons the company chose to build the hotel.
"In total, the two lots are about 2 acres, not a relatively large amount of space to build a hotel," Lakhani said. "After reviewing several brand options, we chose the Holiday Inn Express brand for its brand new prototype, its immense success with business and leisure travelers alike, and for our background in its sister brand and its mother company InterContinental Hotel Group."
The company applied for a commercial 7b tax incentive from Cook County. If granted, the tax incentives will lower the hotel’s 25 percent property tax assessment over the course of its first 12 years. The property will be assessed at 10 percent of market value during the first 10 years, 15 percent during the 11th year and 20 percent during the 12th year.
ncentives, a resolution of support must be provided by the village and final approval must come from the county. The Niles Village Board of Trustees approved the resolution by a vote of 4-1 at its April 14 meeting.
Niles economic development coordinator Ross Klicker said that the only opposition to the project involved the question of why a different incentive class would be used for funding rather than village tax increment financing district funds.
"The reason that it was not recommended to use TIF funds was because the project is within an existing TIF district that is set to expire in 2019," Klicker said. "In this case, the maximum increments that they would be able to generate, because it’s such short time frame left on the TIF district, would be approximately a little over $400,000. That level of incentive wasn’t adequate enough to make the project financially feasible for the Lakhanis."
Now that the village has approved the resolution, the company is working on completing the process with Cook County and waiting for a permit to begin demolition, Lakhani said. After it closed the motel, the company allowed the Niles Fire Department to conduct training exercises on the property in March.
Lakhani said that he believes that the hotel’s proximity to O’Hare Airport will help make it a success.
"The Holiday Inn Express will attract a much different clientele than the Travelers Inn, and the location in Niles is in an excellent position to cater to many different groups of individuals," Lakhani said. "Driving down Howard Street, it’s clear that the new and existing businesses will have tremendous business needs that currently cannot be filled by the hotel supply in Niles. We received tremendous amounts of support from both individuals at the village and residents of Niles."
"Niles doesn’t have any large, full-service hotels any more," Klicker said. "It’s something that our business community has really been asking us for, and I have been hearing from numerous members of our business community that this would be such a welcome addition to the community."
A ground-breaking ceremony Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, April 30.