Signs of Life at Wacker Tower

Wacker Tower

After a long, cold winter’s hibernation, there are signs that real progress may come to Wacker Tower (68 East Wacker Place) sooner, rather than later.

The 1928 art deco skyscraper by Holabird & Root has been the subject of several attempted hotel conversions over the last decade or so, but the current one appears to finally have traction.

68 East Wacker Place construction

Construction hoist on the north side of the Wacker Tower

Loop Spy Edward recently sent in pictures of a new construction hoist anchored to the north side of the building formerly known as the Chicago Motor Club Building.  We hadn’t noticed it earlier, either, and a check of city records shows the permit for it was only issued a couple of months ago.

More recently, the city issued a permit for “Foundation and superstructure only for a new 27-story hotel.”

And then this past Wednesday, Mayor Emanuel sent an ordinance to city council asking for Class L tax status for the property.  If passed, that would give the redeveloper tax credits for preserving the landmark building.  The Department of Planning and Development, and the Landmarks Commission have already given their blessings.

The total cost for the project is estimated at a little over $40 million, including $9.5 million to buy the building in the first place.

Should things continue to fall into place, the new hotel could be open by June of 2015.

Here are some more bits of tid:

  • Developer (on paper): Integrated Motor Club LLC
  • Developer (for realsies): MB Real Estate
  • Hotel rooms: 143
  • Current main doors to be replaced with doors that more accurately match the originals
  • Cast iron ornaments to be saved where possible, and recreated where not
  • Original signs flanking the main entrance to be restored
  • Three new passenger elevators
  • Complete restoration of the lobby mural
  • Modern light fixtures to be removed and replaced with period-accurate fixtures
  • Marble service desk in lobby to be preserved
  • Mail chute to be restored
  • New elevator doors to match the historic decor

With any luck, a year from now people will be able to go inside this building and admire it as it once was.  Until then, enjoy this photo gallery of the terrible state it is currently in:

This article is the result of photos sent in by someone just like you. If you see something interesting in your neighborhood, e-mail your phone pics to  Check out our Tip Line for ways to tip us off by text message and anonymous drop box.



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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