Business Chicago-esque

Virgin Hotel Possibility for Chicago

Looks like Branson’s first choice, the Chicago Motor Club building, might be off the table.


35 E Wacker Drive aka Jewelers Building

Looks like Branson’s first choice, the Chicago Motor Club building, might be off the table.

With his U.S. airline getting ready to fly into Chicago, Sir Richard Branson wants a hotel to go with it.

New York-based Virgin Hotels, the British billionaire’s upstart chain, has been scouting downtown for a location, recently breaking off talks to build a 189-room hotel in a vacant Art Deco building in the East Loop.

The venture, which plans to invest about $500 million in four-star hotels over the next few years, is Mr. Branson’s latest effort to subvert an established industry with his iconic brand, which has been slapped on everything from record stores to spaceships.

Virgin entered into talks last year with a venture led by local investor Sam Roti that owns the empty 17-story tower, court records show. In a December letter to Mr. Roti, Virgin said it was considering investing as much as $10 million in a $74-million project, including the construction of a new tower next door.

The Motor Club property is tied up in a dispute between Mr. Roti and one of the property’s lenders, Chicago-based Aries Capital LLC, which won a judgment of foreclosure in September. A few weeks later, Mr. Roti sought to thwart Aries’ foreclosure by seeking Chapter 11 protection for the Motor Club venture.

Virgin ended talks with Mr. Roti in early February, according to court documents, which don’t cite a reason.

(click here to continue reading Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels looks to open in Chicago)

Jewelers Building - Transformers 3

Built in 1928 to be the home of the motor club, the distinctive structure was designed by Chicago architects Holabird & Root, who also built the Chicago Board of Trade and the Palmolive Building. The lobby features a mural map showing 19 major auto routes across the country by John W. Norton, who also painted a mural of Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest, in the Chicago Board of Trade Building, 141 W. Jackson Blvd.

(click here to continue reading Foreclosure suit hits Motor Club building | News | Crain’s Chicago Business.)

Too bad, that is an attractive building, imo. If I have the right building. For some reason, I thought this was called the Jeweler’s Building. Unfortunately, my Chicago architecture book is at my other office. Doh!

2 replies on “Virgin Hotel Possibility for Chicago”

You do have pictures of the wrong building this is The Jewelers Bldg. but your information was interesting none the less. I would love to see Branson get the Chicago Motor Club bldg. This Roti guy seems to be taking it down the path to becoming a tear-down. Here’s a link to the correct picture:
It’s tricky to photograph because the street is so narrow.

Your picture is actually 35 East Wacker Drive Formerly known as: North American Life Building
Formerly known as: Pure Oil Building
Formerly known as: Jewelers Building

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