[Hpn] Forwarded article: Chicago becomes prime hostel territory
Mon, 04 Dec 2000 21:57:45 -0800 (PST)
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My idea of hosteling was a donation for the shelter not a going standard room rate!
Chicago becomes prime hostel territory
By Charlie Meyerson
With the cutting of a red ribbon featuring the flags of other nations,
Mayor Richard Daley and former Illinois Attorney General Neil Hartigan
presided over the formal opening today of Chicago's first permanent
downtown hostel -- a supervised, inexpensive lodging place for
students and other young travelers.
The J. Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel, a $15 million facility named
for the project's lead private donors, is open for business in an 1886
glass factory at 24 E. Congress Pkwy.
Located within blocks of Columbia College, Roosevelt University and
DePaul University's Loop campus, the hostel combines the old and new
in what Hartigan, who headed the project's fundraising efforts, called
"the safest, cleanest, best hostel in this world."
Under original ceilings of Douglas fir installed in 1886, guests will
find a lounge with a big-screen TV and a vending room with eight
Internet-connected computer terminals. (The terminals haven't been
activated yet, but a staff member said she expected them to provide
about 10 minutes on the Net for $1.)
Hartigan said interactivity would be a hallmark of the new hostel. He
said an advisory committee led by Field Museum President John McCarter
would work to make state-of-the-art technology a staple of the
Praising the Harris family and others for a project that he called "a
tribute to the vitality and strength of the city of Chicago," Daley
called the new hostel an opportunity to show young visitors from
around the world "what Chicago is all about."
Hostel officials say they expect 55,000 of the facility's projected
73,000 overnight stays a year to go to international travelers.
Britain's consul general to Chicago, Robert Culshaw, told those
gathered today, "A lot of Brits are going to come here."
But Illinois Rep. Judy Erwin (D-Chicago), who helped secure more than
$1 million in state grant money for the project, said the hostel would
also provide "a huge benefit to the whole state," providing a home
away from home for students visiting the city from downstate
Although the accommodations closely resemble college dorms -- the
facility offers 500 beds, with up to 10 in a room -- Nina Janopaul,
Hostelling International-American Youth Hostels development director,
calls it the "Taj Mahal of hostelling."
Hostelling International members can stay at the Chicago facility for
an average of $22 per person per night -- well below the going rate
for a hotel room downtown.
Although the hostel is open for business, it's still a work in
progress. Parts are still under construction, and Hostelling
International is still seeking donors.
Naming rights yet to be claimed -- and the price for being so honored
-- include: the student center, $500,000; the central stairway,
$100,000; residential floors, $200,000 each; and the entertainment