Landmark 1923 Michigan Avenue Skyscraper Slated for Hotel Development
Investors from Chicago and New York teamed up to buy the iconic London Accident and Guarantee Building for a reported $57 million. The seller is an intensely secretive real estate mogul with deep pockets.
The latest commercial real estate scuttle to hit the streets is the big-ticket purchase of the 21-story Beaux Arts tower at 360 N. Michigan Ave., the old London Guarantee Building and former home to radio station WLS and Crain's Communications.
The seller is the mysterious and shrewd 55-year-old New York real estate investor Joseph Chetrit, a media-shy player who buys and sells in the billions and has a shiny portfolio of marquee properties, including Chicago's Willis Tower (he spearheaded the $840 million investment through his Chetrit Group) and New York's Sony Building ($1.1 billion) and storied Chelsea Hotel ($80 million). The buy was negotiated by Oxford Capital Group LLC, which partnered with New York-based Angelo, Gordon & Co.
More than 20 years ago the property was a run-down relic with 70 percent vacancy and owned by another New York firm, Helmsley-Spear, one of the largest properties holders in the country and known in some parts for its bug-bitten reputation as a slumlord. Some of you remember Harry Helmsley's wife, Leona Helmsley, ridiculed as the Queen of Mean in the '80s.
The complex had extensive renovations after the 1998 Helmsley sale. John Rutledge of Oxford told the Chicago Sun-Times his company is keenly aware of the architectural importance of the building and said they plan a “high-design lifestyle hotel with two stories of distinctive Michigan Avenue retail,” connecting it to touristy shopping hot spots and Millennium Park.
Designed by Alfred S. Alschuler, the 260,000-square-foot office space gained landmark status in 1996.