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Exterior renovations headed to former Apparel Center in Chicago’s River North?

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The 24-story riverfront complex could be getting a new, gray-looking facade

Photos by Jay Koziarz
An early sign of things to come?

Though expected to somewhat fade into the background once the glassy three-tower Wolf Point development is completed, the 24-story concrete building known as River North Point (formerly known as the Chicago Apparel Mart) might still have a few surprises in store. Home to office space, a conference center, and the 525-room Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, the 1977 mixed-use structure at 350 N. Orleans Street appears to be in the midst of an exterior renovation.

Recently, several panels on the building’s northwest corner were spotted sporting new hues of gray. The property was purchased by The Blackstone Group in 2015 for $390 million. Given the company’s penchant for upgrading and repositioning commercial developments (see the Willis Tower), it’s not unreasonable that such an overhaul is in the cards for River North Point.

Such an undertaking wouldn’t be the first time the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed building has seen substantial modifications to its facade. In the 1990’s the majority of the structure’s blank concrete walls below the upper hotel levels were punched with new window openings.

It’s also possible that the painted segments could simply be a test to see how a potential facade renovation planned in the future would weather the elements. With that being said, the painted swaths are particularly large for test samples and June isn’t exactly the month most closely associated with Chicago’s harsh climate. Stay tuned for more information.