Fulton Street Cos targets old Schwinn building for hotel conversion

$75M project aims to meet growing demand for hotels in West Loop

Fulton Street Cos Targets Old Scheinn Building for Hotel Project
Fulton Street’s Alex Najem with 910 W. Lake Street (Google Maps, Getty)

Alex Najem, one of the driving forces behind the development boom in the Fulton Market district, has targeted his next project in the neighborhood, this time in the hospitality sector.

Najem’s firm, Fulton Street Companies, is leading a redevelopment of the vacant Lake Street Lofts building at 910 West Lake Street, which housed the original Schwinn bicycle factory in the late 1800s, into a 140-key Drift hotel, CoStar reported

Drift, a brand under California-based TMC Hospitality, will manage the property and invest in the $75 million project. The boutique hotel is expected to open in fall of next year.

Drift Fulton Market will feature a rooftop bar and restaurant with skyline views, a lower-level speakeasy, and a high-end collaborative workspace on the ground floor. Negotiations are underway with local food-and-beverage operators and a New York-based firm to manage the flex workspace.

“We’re going to renovate the building to last another 100 years,” Najem told the outlet.

This hotel initiative adds to a series of ambitious projects by Fulton Street in the neighborhood, including a 360,000-square-foot office building that recently started construction, and plans for over 1,500 apartment units nearby. 

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The hotel development team also comprises Chicago-based Weldon Development Group and SNK Capital, led by Shanna Khan, daughter of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan. The team is seeking financing and a zoning change from the city.

The redevelopment continues the area’s transformation from an old meatpacking district into one of Chicago’s hottest neighborhoods, where high-rise office and residential towers have sprouted like weeds in recent years. The Drift will also join other boutique hotels in the area, the Hoxton, Nobu and Soho House.

Built in the 1880s, the six-story Lake Street building became the Schwinn bicycle factory in 1895 and was recently converted to an 89-unit apartment building by architect Pat FitzGerald. Fulton Street bought it for $49 million in December 2022. The firm scrapped its plan to integrate it into the office project, pivoting to hospitality to meet the neighborhood’s demand for hotel accommodations.

“Developing a new-construction hotel is very difficult today, but Fulton Market is starved for rooms,” Najem said. “There are only about 600 rooms in the neighborhood.”

—Quinn Donoghue 

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