Work to Resume at Stalled Michigan Avenue Hotel Conversion

168 North Michigan under construction

168 North Michigan in early 2014. That rumble you hear is the third shift at Northwestern Terra Cotta rolling over in their graves.

The transformation of the North Michigan Avenue corridor between the Chicago River and Millennium Park is about to get kicked up a notch.  Long-stalled work on the building at 168 North Michigan Avenue is expected to resume soon.

A trio of dead permits have been reinstated allowing construction crews to fix the exterior terra cotta on the 12 (should be 16) story building.  Right now the building’s exterior is a pockmarked mess because of an incomplete round of restoration a couple of years ago.  This new work could be completed by November.

168 North Michigan under constructionAs we reported three years ago, when it was built in 1916, the 168 North Michigan was considered a masterpiece:

Designed by legendary architecture firm Marshall and Fox, the office building was the headquarters of the Federal Life Insurance Company.  Its interior boasted walls paneled in rich mahogany, and terra cotta details rivaling any of its neighbors.

The building’s more recent history has been less dignified.  Its last tenant was Atlantic Bank, formerly Bank of Athens.  That business moved out long ago, and the building sat vacant for a while.  Then in 2013 came word that Crown Commercial Real Estate and Development was going to convert it into a Hotel Indigo.  In 2014, work crews showed up, did some demolition inside and outside, but then eventually went away, leaving the building uglier than they found it.

Cook County records show the building was purchased this past December for $20 million by OQ 168NM PROPCO, an LLC that shares a hairbrush with Oxford Capital Group.  You may remember Oxford from such hits as the nearby Hotel Felix in River North, the even nearer-by Langham Hotel just across the river.  Oxford is also busy just two blocks north, at 360 North Michigan Avenue, converting the former London Guarantee and Accident Building into The LondonHouse Hotel; and ten blocks the other way where it’s trying to renovate the Essex Inn to include a 55-story apartment building.

168 North Michigan under construction

Location: 168 North 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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