In order to secure their valuable location in the Gold Coast, the Mondrian will be renovating The Cedar Hotel, dating from 1924 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (but not landmarked). Formerly a brothel-cum-halfway house, The Cedar has been vacant since last September when its ground-floor bars dried up--popular summer spots in their own right.
In April of 2008 it looked as if things might be picking up at the site, when our contact spotted the development company chipping away at the buildings facade to investigate structural integrity. They must not have liked what they saw, as they haven't returned since. Speaking of the developers, Chicago-based M Development, they're currently putting finishing touches on another major building a block south: the beautiful new Barneys New York store.
Aside from the issues of renovating The Cedar Hotel and being surrounded by other construction projects, the Mondrian Chicago is also up against its neighbors, Gold Coast residents who are notoriously gray-haired and resistant to change. Our spy at the community meeting had this to say:
"The Alderman didn't even bother to show up; the place was filled with the locals who attend every community meeting just to crap themselves over new development.
The oddest concerns were voiced, like what will the building do to prevent migrating birds from slamming into it and will there be a taxi stand?
Finally the oldest of the bunch stood with his cane and simply announced that 'any worthy new additions to the neighborhood are good additions.' The meeting closed shortly after."
If the Mondrian Chicago successfully opens in time for summer 2010, it is sure to breathe life back into the stale Viagra Triangle, where Gibson's Steakhouse rules at the south end flanked by other similarly artery-clogging restaurants.
So far it's already contributed to a better image of the neighborhood; with the Cedar Hotel closed, the sound of emergency sirens has dropped off and vagrants have moved on, hopefully to be replaced by movers and shakers of the Mondrian ilk.