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203 N Wabash to Become Virgin's First Chicago Hotel

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The old Dearborn Bank building at 203 N Wabash looks to be the future site of a 250-room Virgin hotel. Crain's broke news today that Virgin has teamed with prolific downtown developer John Buck to redevelop the 27-story art deco building by fall 2013. The building was bought from Urban Street Group, who's apartment plans are now still-born. Anthony Marino, head of Virgin Hotels, said in a statement, "This transaction is a first step towards our goal of building a portfolio of hotels that anticipate and respond to the needs of today's travelers and set a new standard for the industry". Virgin has designs for a continental boom, but does this also suggest Virgin's ambition for more than one Chicago hotel? Rather opaque, we know.

Viewers may notice that 203 N Wabash looks a lot like 68 E Wacker, the Motor Club building that has been the eye of a hurricane of speculation on a new hotel project. In fact, The Motor Club Building was Virgin's first bite, when it began scouting the area last year, and a tentative deal was struck for a conversion. Crain's says it just fizzled. Virgin also was rumored to have interest in the long-stalled StayBridge Suites construction at La Salle and Huron. Curbed is looking into an explanation for the switch.
· Virgin Hotel in deal with John Buck Co. to enter Chicago market [Crain's]

[Photo by Zol87 via Flickr/Creative Commons]