Monday, October 24, 2011

Virgin Hotels Buys First U.S. Property in Chicago

Chicago Sun-Times: Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels said Monday it has bought a landmark office building in downtown Chicago and will convert it into 250 guest rooms.

The company is buying the 27-story 203 N. Wabash building, which was completed in 1928. It was named a Chicago landmark in 2003 and is one of only two office buildings designed by famous theater architects Rapp & Rapp.

The Virgin Hotel Chicago is due to open in the fall of 2013, with the company pledging to restore or recreate the building’s significant architectural features. It has hired Chicago firm John Buck Co. to manage the redevelopment.

Founded in 2010, Virgin Hotels said it is looking for properties in major North American cities. Anthony Marino, managing partner at Virgin Group, said he expects some locations in other cities will open before the Chicago property is ready.

The seller of 203 N. Wabash is UrbanStreet Group LLC, which had considered converting the building into apartments.

The building is just west of a six-story building at 200 N. Michigan in which Buck has acquired a stake. It could be redeveloped as part of an expansion for the nearby Hard Rock Hotel Chicago.

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