The development group behind the luxe Langham and Godfrey hotels in River North — two mainstays in the recently revamped Curbed Chicago Hotel 18 — just set their sights on prime property across from Grant Park. Crain's reports that Oxford Capital plans to convert the 254 room, 14 story Essex Inn at 800 South Michigan Avenue into an "upscale lifestyle hotel," taking advantage of the upswing of new development activity in the South Loop. Considering the company's track record, it'll be especially interesting to see what they do with the property's enclosed rooftop pool. The group is also rebooting vintage office space at 360 North Michigan Avenue, with plans to build a 450 room hotel.
The Essex Inn was originally built in 1961 by physician-turned-real estate developer Martin Gecht, who also owned two other hotel projects at the time, a pair of gasoline stations-turned-hotels further down Michigan Avenue. The Chicago Tribune reported that at the time of its initial opening, the Essex was a $6 million dollar project, and that the trio of hotels, known as the Aristocrat Inns, grossed a million dollars in the second half of 1961 due to convention traffic. It will soon join a slew of other downtown hotels to receive makeovers, or "product upgrades" as some developers prefer. With Chicago's hotel market booming, and facing increasingly stiff competition for guests, the Essex Inn will soon up its game.
— Patrick Sisson
·Chicago developer buys Essex Inn [Crain's]
·Previous Hotel Boom Town coverage [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous South Loop coverage [Curbed Chicago]