Construction crews continue working at 66 East Wacker Place, trying to jam a 26-story Hilton Garden Inn into a space only slightly larger than a mouse. Thanks to Loop Spy Daniel for sending in this picture of the progress.
The developer, GDS Companies, and its architect, GREC Architects, see no problem with the plan to stuff the limited-service hotel in the limited space between the 17th Church of Christ, Scientist and the Chicago Motor Club Building. Most people assumed that space was just a back alley servicing the The Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront (71 East Wacker Drive and still branded “Hotel 71”). But it turns out that it’s a actual plot of real estate, and soon an actual hotel.
When finished, it will fill a badly-needed niche in Chicago’s downtown hotel market. The big shame of it, though, is the fact that it won’t have any windows on its western facade. A blank wall covered with metal panels will separate customers inside the hotel from one of the truly epic views of Chicago—a gander directly down the main channel of the Chicago River. The architects tried to make it happen, but the building’s tiny footprint conspired with Chicago’s fire code to make it impossible. The obvious solution would be a rooftop deck, but this is a “limited service hotel” and its very limited services will all be in the basement.
Interestingly, the plan to cover the exterior wall with metal panels in various shades of grey may have an addition— a sign for the hotel next door. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that a paperwork snafu may allow a Hampton Inn sign to be placed on the Hilton Garden Inn. The Hampton Inn is being built inside the former Chicago Motor Club building next door. Not surprisingly, it’s all going to court.
Perhaps in a hundred years people will look at this hotel and wonder who could have conceived of building it there, much the way we now look at the Singer Building (120 South State Street) and wonder at the overstuffed bag of crazy that must have been needed to build that über-narrow building barely wider than the spinsters who once worked there.