Congress Hotel Tries to Even Out Again; OCD Architects Rejoice

Congress Hotel, courtesy of <a href=

Six years after the Chicago Plan Commission approved the Congress Plaza Hotel’s plan to add floors to increase capacity and become more symmetrical, what is now known as the Congress Hotel (520 South Michigan Avenue) will go before the Plan Commission again this month seeking re-approval of the expansion scheme.

You may not have noticed, but the southwest corner of the hotel is shorter than the rest of the building.  The hotel wants permission to fill in that space and add a 15th floor.  Specifically:

…Applicant proposes to construct a four-story addition on the west side of the 11th – 14th floors of the existing building to add 60 new hotel rooms and to construct a new 15th floor containing an additional 12 hotel rooms, a restaurant/bar with outdoor patio seating, and support spaces.

The hotel has tried this before, back in 2008.  At the time good old fashioned Chicago politics got in the way.  The short version is that 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti got elected with the help of a union that was striking against the hotel. The Plan Commission then had a really strange vote (4 yea, 1 nay, 4 abstentions) which ended up rejecting the expansion plan.  The hotel sued Fioretti claiming he blocked the plan to pay the union back for its support.  A judge threw out the Plan Commission’s original vote and ordered a new one.  The second time around the Plan Commission approved the expansion.

Since then the strike ended, redistricting moved the hotel out of Fioretti’s 2nd Ward, and the hotel was sold to new owners in New York.  Hopefully it’s a new day for all parties involved.

Location: 520 South Michigan Avenue, 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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