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56-story Essex on the Park opens along Michigan Avenue

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The South Loop project offers sweeping views of Grant Park, the city, and the lake

Essex on the Park (left) and the landmarked Hotel Essex building (right).
Jay Koziarz

Two years after breaking ground at 808 S. Michigan Avenue, the 620-foot-tall Essex on the Park apartment high-rise welcomes its first residents. The project draws inspiration from its location next door to the landmarked former Essex Inn hotel, across from Grant Park.

The new tower’s connection to the hotel is more than just physical. The project’s developer, Oxford Capital Group—the firm behind Chicago Langham Hotel, LondonHouse, and Hotel Julian—brings a hospitality-minded attitude to the apartment project.

The approach is perhaps best reflected in the residential tower’s resort-like winter garden, a four-story glass enclosed atrium containing lush greenery, an infinity-edge pool, and a dazzling array of dangling pendant lights. The soaring treetop space allows for expansive views of the park and provides more light to south-facing guest rooms of the neighboring hotel.

Jay Koziarz

Additional amenities in the Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture-designed building include valet parking in a well-concealed garage, a party room, demonstration kitchen, fitness center, outdoor terraces for grilling and sunning, and a dog run with a pet grooming station.

The apartment tower is also Chicago’s first apartment building to earn Well Certification—a health and wellness-focused designation that is gaining popularity with new residential and commercial buildings alike.

As for the units themselves, the tower’s 479 luxury apartments offer incredible views in nearly every direction through its distinctive green-hued floor-to-ceiling glass. Residences here are offered studio, convertible, one-, two-, and three-bedroom floorplans in addition to four penthouse duplexes with private terraces on the tower’s upper levels.

The view from the penthouse is a sight to behold.
Jay Koziarz
A model unit facing northeast.
Dave Burke Photography
The city views to west aren’t bad either.
Dave Burke Photography

While Essex on the Park welcomes its first renters, work is still wrapping up a $75 million renovation of the neighboring Essex Inn—now rebranded as Hotel Essex. Designed in 1961 by A. Epstein and Sons, the landmark glass and metal-clad building is getting a contemporary makeover from the Gettys Group, influenced by the structure’s midcentury architecture.

The hotel’s lobby features a low check-in desk reminiscent 1960’s console table and a room dividing screen of wooden hexagons. The guest rooms—expanded by 20 for a total of 274—include a blend of mid-mod furniture and the latest technology such as Bluetooth-enabled bathroom mirrors with concealed speakers.

Hotel amenities include a third-floor conference room overlooking Grant Park and a fitness center. On the food and beverage side of the equation, Hotel Essex will have a ground-floor coffee shop and French restaurant dubbed Grant Park Bistro.

Additionally, a two-floor cocktail lounge and dance club with retractable glass walls known as SX Sky Bar will open for in the residential tower in April. Given Chicagoans’ love for new rooftop bars, expect lines to form along Michigan Avenue once the weather turns warmer.

A rendering of the upcoming SX Sky Bar shows its glam booths and funky patterns.
Getty’s Group
Another angle of SX Sky Bar.
Getty’s Group