Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Inside the Art Deco Chicago Motor Club: Has it finally Found a Future?

click images for larger view
 Crain's Alby Gallun is reporting this afternoon that the long-empty 1928 Chicago Motor Club Building, designed by Holabird and Root, has been sold to MB Real Estate Services for about $9.5 million.  That's what the previous owner, Aries Capital LLC, paid for the property in a 2011 auction, but they had already made an additional $4.5 million selling off a 4,700 square-foot parcel next to the building.  Read more and see our photo essay after the break . . .

The Motor Club building is the last hold-out in what is becoming hotel central.  Just across that empty 4,700 parcel - which is also slated to become a hotel at some point - is where Hotel 71 - originally Milton Schwartz's strikingly modernist (if altered) 1960 Executive House - is morphing into the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront.  Down the alley, at Michigan and Wacker, Alfred Alschuler's Beaux-Arts 1923 London Guarantee is being converted into a hotel by Oxford Capital.  Next door, the 41-story Mather Tower, from 1928 (new crown from 2002) . . .
 . . .  hosts a Club Quarters outpost.
from left: London Guarantee, Mather Tower, Wyndham Grand Chicago (red top is Virgin Chicago)
Down the street from the Motor Club, on East Wacker at Michigan, the 1929, 503-foot, champagne bottle-topped Carbide and Carbon Building, with its distinctive green terra-cotta, has been Chicago's Hard Rock Hotel since 2004.  In the other direction, there's the Hotel Monaco, and, just south of that, Rapp and Rapp's 203 North Wabash is currently under construction on its way to becoming the Virgin Hotel Chicago.
angry birds, Virgin Hotel Chicago
Back in 2011, Aries Capital put the cost of putting a hotel in the Chicago Motor Club building at somewhere between $42 and $65 million.   Crain's reporting that the new owners hope to begin construction within 90 days,  with an estimated final cost $40 million.  Here's hoping that's enough to bring the building's lobby back to its original glory.  With Art Deco details and a great mural map of the United States by John Warner Norton, it's one of the great Chicago spaces, as you can see from these photos we took during the 2011 edition of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago.

Read more:

Hotel conversion on tap for East Loop Art Deco gem - (Crain's Chicago Business)

Commission on Chicago Landmarks Official Designation Report: fantastic overview of the Chicago Motor Club's history, the history of the building and much more - richly illustrated.

Inside the Chicago Motor Club (from 2011)

Things Change:  The Pulled Window Shades of London Guarantee

Activated Virgin:  The Transformation of Rapp and Rapp's 203 North Wabash

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