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Chicago’s former Historical Society building begins ‘clubstaurant’ conversion

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The landmarked building at 632 N. Dearborn will reopen next year as TAO Chicago

Construction fencing arrived on-site this week.
Jay Koziarz

After sitting vacant for two years, the lights are back on at the iconic 1892 Romanesque Revival building located at the northwest corner of Dearborn and Ontario. Previously the home of the Chicago Historical Society and later the Excalibur and Castle nightclubs, the granite-clad building is beginning its transformation into TAO—a pan-Asian “clubstaurant” with locations in New York and Las Vegas.

According to Eater Chicago, TAO has partnered with Four Corners Tavern Group—the hospitality arm of local developer Sterling Bay—for its upcoming River North location. Thanks to a handful of interior renderings published on SB’s website, we also have our first glimpse of what TOA Chicago could look like when it expects to opens in early 2018.

A recently issued building permit for 632 N. Dearborn estimates the renovation work at $15 million and lists Space Architects + Planners as the project’s lead architect. The Chicago-based design firm has previously partnered with Four Corners on restaurants such as Steakbar, Benchmark, and Federales.

Four Corners Tavern Group/Sterling Bay
Four Corners Tavern Group/Sterling Bay
Four Corners Tavern Group/Sterling Bay