Community leaders reopen the historic Strand Hotel

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PUBLISHER DOROTHY R. LEAVELL (Chicago Crusader) with Jackie and Peter Holsten, President of Holsten Real Estate Development. Photo by Bob Black

The Woodlawn community received a huge shot in the arm on November 20 with the reopening of The Historic Strand at 6321 South Cottage Grove. The occasion was recognized with a ribbon-cutting event that was attended by Chicago’s movers and shakers and also to celebrate the historic renovation’s completion two months ahead of schedule … and on budget.

Built in 1914 by the architectural firm of Davis & Davis (the same architectural team that did Wrigley Field, the St. James Chapel of Quigley Prep, and Old Comiskey Park) and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (2013), The Hotel Strand lived through some exciting, finger-popping good times when 63rd Street & Cottage Grove was the place to go to be seen and have a good time, shop, conduct business, dine and dance, and experience the bustling metropolis. But the changing face of time caused the once grand 80,000 sq. ft. Hotel Strand to fall on hard times. Very hard times.

Numerous architects started rehab projects that never worked. Owned by the City of Chicago, the beaten-down property laid vacant for over ten years.

Peter Holsten, president of Holsten Real Estate Development – a visionary with an impressive track record, who has been profiled on “60 Minutes” for his innovative approach to affordable housing – enters with a plan for breathing life into Hotel Strand. Holsten’s previous developments include The Sutherland (49th & Drexel), The Norman (Wilson Avenue), the Bryn Mawr (N. Kenmore), North Town Village (7 acres between Division & Halsted), Hill- iard Towers (Cermak Road), and Wilson Yards (Broadway).

The City of Chicago liked Holsten’s plan to renovate the historic property, so 101 years after it first opened in 1914 … the rehabbed Historic Strand is now open.

The Historic Strand is now 62 units of rental housing above retail space on the first floor. Comments property manager Latrice Hayes, “We are thrilled to have over 200 applications from excited prospective tenants; some tenants have aleady taken occupancy!

According to architect Chris Lee, President of Johnson & Lee Architects, “We wanted to keep the street animated, which retail on the first floor will accomplish … and access to the green line enhances the transit-oriented development.”

Retail @ The Historic Strand:

“Returning to the Historic Strand will be entrepreneur Shireen Jamil with a Subway Sandwich store. Says Shireen, “I had a sandwich shop in this very location twenty years ago! It was a challenging experience — the neighborhood was in flux and the building was falling down — but our sandwiches were good and the people came! To return with a Subway shop in this gorgeous building is truly a blessing, and is so great for the neighborhood.”

“Cosmetologist Jacqueline Lynch and artist Bill Lynch, owners of Ariel Joseph Art Gallery & Salon, comment, “We are both creative types — she on hair and me on canvas — so why not combine our talents and showcase in one space! We are very excited to be a part of The Historic Strand.”

“Eddie Odish and Chris Meram will operate MetroPCS, a cellular phone store offering MetroPCS cell phones and service. MetroPCS is owned by T-Mobile and offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 per month! The partners, who also have stores in LaGrange, Bensenville and Glendale Heights, say, “We wanted a location on the south side of Chicago, and when we saw that The Historic Strand was opening, we jumped on the opportunity to be on the first floor. The area is alive and is very busy … we are excited to be a part of a growing community.”

The team put together by Holsten Real Estate Development for the rehabilitation of The Historic Strand included Financial Partners City of Chicago, Department of Planning and Development; Illinois Historic Preservation Agency; Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; Citibank; Alliant Capital; and LISC, as well as the Professional Services of Johnson & Lee Architects (architect), Linn-Mathes, Inc. (contractor), and McGuire Igleski (historic consultant).

Comments Peter Holsten, “To build a community, you have to do it from the inside out. This means that we as the developers must make more than a bricks-and-mortar commitment – we have to start with the people. We must all commit to making a difference in the city.”

The re-opening of The Historic Strand is certainly making a difference to the people of Woodlawn!

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