A downtown hotel faces public nuisance charges after the city launched an investigation following a series of incidents involving the hotel and its guests, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said in an email to constituents Friday evening.
Police and politicians have blamed rock-bottom hotel rates during the COVID pandemic for a surge in violent crime, gun-related incidents, and disturbances over the past year.
“These low rates, coupled with the limited hours and capacity of downtown entertainment venues, have transformed hotels into convenient alternatives to bars and restaurants,” Reilly said.
Now, the Eurostars Magnificent Mile Hotel at 660 North State is in the city’s cross-hairs. The hotel formerly operated as the Dana Hotel. Reilly said residents began contacting his office about hotel problems last summer, but he identified Eurostars as a “hotspot.”
“Large gatherings, guests throwing bottles from balconies, lighting fires on balconies, and not enforcing proper safety protocols or other COVID-19 restrictions,” were all reported, he said. “Most alarming was a recent media report that a CPD traffic stop in River North led to the arrests of six individuals for handgun possession; these individuals were all guests of the Eurostar Hotel.” CWBChicago published that story on March 9.
The alderman said he asked CPD and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) to conduct task force investigations of the hotel “because of the deleterious impact the business has had on the River North community.”
City inspectors carried out 11 inspections at Eurostars between March 2020 and March 2021, resulting in “issued numerous citations for violations of Chicago Municipal Code and COVID-19 guidance,” he said.
Now, the city is pursuing a public nuisance action against Eurostars for what Reilly called “continued disregard for public safety.”
Many of the itemized complaints against the hotel are minor violations like allowing people to smoke cannabis on the premises and failure to enforce social distancing in elevators. But other allegations are more serious.
For example, the city’s complaint lists 12 separate incidents involving firearms in the hotel or on adjacent property since October 16. The six arrests in March are included as one item.
Other allegations include a December 8 armed robbery on the premises and a criminal sexual assault in the hotel on February 18.
The hotel’s management has been ordered to appear at an online hearing April 28, Reilly said.
Plenty of other downtown hotels have had bad experiences as low rates brought trouble to their properties. Among the more recent incidents:
- A suburban man was charged with firing a gun outside the West Loop Hampton Inn last weekend.Police arrested a man who allegedly fired shots near Wabash and Lake streets on March 19. That incident was reportedly linked to a party at the nearby Virgin Hotel.
- On February 28, a man was charged with a gun violation after he fired a weapon into the air to break up a fight outside the LondonHouse.
- A man was shot with a rifle inside a room at the Hampton Inn River North, 33 West Illinois, on January 30.
- A shoot-out at the Swissotel, 323 East Wacker, left a man injured on November 7.
- On March 30, an 18-year-old man was shot during an argument among a group of people inside a Streeterville hotel.
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