Build an 82-Story Building in Chicago by 2017? Good Luck With That

Chicago real estate developers are a tight-lipped group.  With just a few exceptions, they don’t like talking about their projects, sometimes to the point of absurdity.  We’ve stood inside construction sites for buildings and had representatives of the building developers deny it even exists.  Seriously.

At the other extreme are real estate developers who get all excited and perhaps talk too much.  Donald Trump, for example.  And now, quite possibly, Grupo Posadas.

Posadas is the largest hotel company in Mexico, and yesterday the Wall Street Journal broke the story that it plans to expand into the United States.  Its first market?  Chicago.  With an 82-story hotel tower “targeted for completion in 2017.”  Wait… 2017?  Sure, here are the possibilities:

  • It was a typo in the press release, and should have read “2019”
  • Grupo Posadas is going to buy the Willis Tower and shave off 28 stories
  • Grupo Posadas is in possession of a super-secret time machine and is going to loan it to Walsh Construction

To complicate things further, the report states that it wants to start construction “this summer.”  Which would mean in the next 90 days.

We congratulate Grupo Posadas for its enthusiasm, and note that it is fairly evident that it does not even have even a remote idea of what it’s getting into trying to build a skyscraper in Chicago.  I don’t know what the process is in Mexico City, but in Chicago there are aldermen to meet, gears to be greased, paperwork to be filed, lawyers to be hired, NIMBY groups to be assuaged.  And to complicate things further, the Journal claims the tower will be in the West Loop.  Ward 42, baby.  Alderman Reilly’s house.  Get ready for some hot buttered public input.

Model of 201 North Clark

The Garvey Tower designed for 201 North Clark/161 West Lake

So in order to make a 2017 goal, this project has to have already been well into the development process.  Looking through our Tip Line inbox of unclaimed buildings, we don’t find anything over 50ish stories that isn’t already public.  There are two 40ish-story hotels being worked on behind the scenes in the West Loop, but they’re only half of what we’re looking for.  There’s another, taller, West Loop tower we have a blurry photo of, but it’s seriously too messed up to even guess how tall it’s supposed to be.

Back in December of last year, there were some rumblings about the Garvey Tower finally becoming a thing at 201 North Clark.  But that’s not the West Loop.  And the renderings and models we’ve seen for that building are all at least 20 stories shorter than 82.

So we’re left with the notion that this is a new tower.  And our original thought on the matter: “Good luck with that.”

You can read Grupo Posadas’ full press release below and decide for yourself if it’s over-promising.

Posadas Launches Premium Hotel Brand, Live Aqua Hotels and Resorts, in the United States

  • U.S. launch of award-winning, Latin lifestyle brand is the first international expansion for Mexico’s largest hotel operator
  • $450 million investment from Bighorn Capital to develop an initial 5 properties targeted in U.S. gateway cities including Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington, D.C.
  • Début Hotel Group will manage the Live Aqua U.S. hotels
  • First development to be an 82-story high-rise in Chicago dual-branded with the Live Aqua and Dream Hotels brands

MEXICO CITY and NEW YORK, June 26, 2015 – Grupo Posadas, S.A.B. de C.V., Mexico’s largest hotel operator with over 130 hotels, and private equity firm Bighorn Capital, Inc., have signed an agreement that will introduce its premier luxury boutique hotel brand, Live Aqua, to major U.S. cities.

As a part of the agreement, Bighorn Capital will invest $450 million to develop an initial five hotels, branded Live Aqua, in the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Washington, D.C. These cities have large Hispanic populations and attract substantial Latin American and international tourists who will provide a strong foundation of guests that have an affinity for the Live Aqua brand concept and sophisticated luxury services.

Début Hotel Group, a Hampshire Hotels Management company and owner and operator of successful hotel brands including Dream HotelsTM, Night HotelsTM and Time HotelsTM, will manage the Live Aqua U.S. hotels.

Each hotel is expected to comprise an average of 250 to 300 units. The concept for Chicago, targeted for completion in 2017, is to build an 82-story high-rise in the West Loop area, and to dual-brand the development with the Live Aqua and Dream Hotels brands.

“We are very excited to introduce the American consumer and international tourists to Live Aqua, our luxury brand with a unique Latin style known for warm, attentive service,” says Javier Barrera, Vice President of Posadas. “Through our partnership with Bighorn Capital and Début Hotel Group, both of whom have a deep understanding of the innate characteristics of success in the U.S. market, we believe we can establish a lasting and important lifestyle brand in the U.S.”

This will be the first international expansion for Posadas, a leader in the Mexican hospitality industry. Live Aqua Hotels and Resorts was voted best resort in Mexico 2013 by Travel & Leisure, gained accolades in Conde Nast 2014 Hotlist, and won honors from Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Awards.

“Live Aqua promises to bring to the U.S. hospitality market a new concept experience found in Posadas’ Mexican properties,” said Rob Entler, CEO of Bighorn Capital. “Posadas has developed an elegant hotel and resort concept which we believe has enormous potential in gateway cities throughout the country.”

”We are proud to partner with Posadas and Bighorn to help bring the Live Aqua Hotels brand to life throughout the U.S.,” said Eric Danziger, president and CEO of Début Hotel Group and Hampshire Hotels Management. “We have successfully managed upscale lifestyle properties for over 30 years, and we look forward to leveraging our expertise to maintain the distinctive and exclusive experience that Posadas pioneered with the Live Aqua brand in the Mexican market.”

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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