Construction Update
San Francisco Company Reviving New York Building in Downtown Chicago

39 South LaSalle under construction

The conversion of the former New York Life Insurance Building in The Loop continues apace. It is just the latest in a series of projects converting office buildings into hotels downtown. So many, in fact, that this project and the Hyatt Centric conversion stand back-to-back, and can be confused for one great big hotel conversion project if you’re not careful.

Our Daniel Schell was careful when he rang the bell at 39 South LaSalle Street recently, returning with these photographs of the construction progress. When finished about a year from now, the hotel will have 281 rooms, a top-floor ballroom, and a second-floor bar. It will retain its ground floor retail space. Right now, the exterior of the building bears the scars of renovation but should be patched up in short order. More importantly, the Starbucks is still open.

39 South LaSalle under construction

To paraphrase PBS, Crain’s Chicago Business notes that all of this was made possible through the generous financial support of viewers like you. You’re kicking in $14.6 million in tax credits or about 13% of the total cost. Why is that? Because the building is historic. It was erected in 1894 and designed by William Le Baron Jenney.

Noting that 39 South LaSalle was on Preservation Chicago’s list of most endangered buildings, the San Francisco-based hotelier recently blogged about the project:

Our new LaSalle building still sports a terra cotta façade, a monumental lobby with twin staircases and marble walls, coffered ceilings, and stately columns—all the makings for an incredible hotel arrival experience.

And we’re no strangers to adaptive reuse projects, giving new life to old buildings while still honoring their past. We’ve converted 13 historic properties into hotels, with four more set to open in the next two years. And when our South LaSalle Street hotel opens, it will feature a restaurant, two bars, retail space, and a view-enhanced top-floor ballroom. Not to mention a locally inspired décor created by our interior design maven, Ave Bradley, and Los Angeles-based design firm Beleco.

Location: 39 South LaSalle Street, The Loop


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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