It’s not even open yet, and already the conversion of the former London Guarantee and Accident Building (360 North Michigan Avenue) into a hotel is improving the neighborhood.
A demolition permit has been issued for the parking lot at 85 East Wacker Drive—the slice of concrete pie between London Guarantee and the Club Quarters hotel. The space will be used for an addition onto the London Guarantee building to form what will soon be known as Hotel360.
Hotel360 is a project of Oxford Capital Group and Angelo, Gordon and Company to give the office building new life as two stories of high-end retail space with a swishy hotel above. If that sounds like a tall order, you may remember that Oxford Capital is the same group behind sliding a hyperlux Hotel Langham discretely inside the former IBM Plaza (now AMA Plaza—330 North Wabash Avenue) across the river. We also know Oxford from the neighborhood-friendly Hotels Felix and Godfrey in River North.
The demolition of 85 East Wacker will involve a lot more time, effort, and noise than most surface parking lot exterminations. That’s because in this case “surface” really means East Upper Wacker Drive. It is elevated a couple of dozen feet above true ground level.
Earlier this year, permits were issued so that construction workers can slice off the western facade of the first 21 floors of this building, in order to open it up and join it to the new structure that will rise next door. Unfortunately, the addition won’t be a seamless continuation of the original building, which is considered an architectural gem. According to the drawings from friends-of-the-blog, Goettish Partners, the addition will have its own character as it serves as a bridge between the aesthetics of its parent building, designed by Alfred S. Alschuler in 1922, and the style of its neighbor, Herbert Hugh Riddle’s 1928 Mather Tower.
Over the years we’ve been publishing this blog, we have received the occasional inquiry about this space. Was there ever a building there? Has it always been a parking lot? The answer, as far as we can tell, is “no” and “yes.” Searching back at least until the 1930’s, this was a parking and storage lot.
As for the main building, the hotel conversion couldn’t have come soon enough. Though it’s a magnificent tower on the outside, much of the inside has suffered over the years. During several trips to the Turkish consulate, it was clear that the office component of this building was a little long in the tooth.
Here are the data points on the redevelopment plan:
- Hotel rooms: 450
- Retail space: 28,000 square feet
- Existing building height: 371 feet
- Addition height: 320 feet
- Facade architect for addition: Klein & Hoffman
- Architect of record for addition: Goettsch Partners
- General contractor: W.E. O’Neil
- Total floor space with addition: 363,394
For more information on Hotel360, here is Oxford’s press release from last year:
CHICAGO, IL–(Marketwired – Jul 29, 2013) – Oxford Capital Group, LLC with Angelo, Gordon & Co. have acquired the landmark London Accident & Guarantee Building designed by famed architect Alfred S. Alschuler at 360 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago along with an adjacent parcel of land at 77 East Wacker Drive. The plan is to convert the properties into a new lifestyle hotel above two stories of upscale retail.
Built on the site of historic Fort Dearborn in 1923, the 280,000 square foot, 21-story London Accident & Guarantee Building is a Chicago Landmark located on the southwest corner of North Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. It is one of the four 1920s flanks of the North Michigan Avenue Bridge, along with the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and 333 North Michigan Avenue. A large relief above the entrance commemorates Fort Dearborn.
“We are fortunate to have found this opportunity to acquire such a wonderfully located property. Given its important place in Chicago’s history and architectural patrimony, we feel an acute sense of responsibility as the steward of this extraordinary building. We are also excited to be a part of the dramatic transformation taking place on this stretch of North Michigan Avenue. Thanks to Millennium Park, Lakeshore East, the thriving theatre district and a number of other positive macro trends, this submarket has emerged as one of the most dynamic areas in the city. New hotels, high-rise residences, restaurants and a continued upgrade of the retail in the immediate area are creating a unique nexus of energy converging at this corner of North Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, two of Chicago’s most prominent streets. We look forward to transforming it into a high design lifestyle hotel with two stories of distinctive Michigan Avenue retail,” says John W. Rutledge, founder, president and CEO of Oxford Capital Group, LLC and its wholly owned operating affiliate, Oxford Hotels and Resorts, LLC.
“As evidenced by this and our recent investment activity in Chicago, we are enthused about the opportunities this world-class city presents Angelo Gordon. We are especially delighted to partner with Oxford Capital Group to restore and transform this historic landmark into an iconic hotel. We expect 360 N. Michigan to anchor the ongoing convergence of Chicago’s Mag Mile and Millennium Park and be one of the key driving forces behind the development renaissance this valuable stretch of Michigan Ave is already experiencing,” says Ryan Klenovich, vice president for Angelo, Gordon & Co.
The project is expected to generate hundreds of construction, hotel and retail operating jobs and tens of millions of dollars in incremental revenues across various city, county, state and federal government bodies.
CBRE’s Peter Greene and Mike Vesper acted as broker on the transaction.
Eastdil Secured’s Doug Harmon also provided acquisition advisory services to the venture.