It’s good to hear the former London Guarantee Building, a gracious Beaux Arts skyscraper that has been home to a jazz club, insurance companies and a major radio station, will be converted into a hotel.
To think the building was almost 70 percent vacant 20 years ago, rotting under the ownership of New York City landlord Helmsley Spear. Built in 1923 and designed by noted architect Alfred S. Alschuler, the building was granted city landmark status in 1996. New ownership kept the structure afloat and made key repairs, including a 2001 renovation that revealed a coffered rotunda lobby ceiling.
A representative of the two investment groups that recently bought the building told the Chicago Sun-Times the former office block at 360 N. Michigan Ave. would be turned “into a high design lifestyle hotel with two stories of distinctive Michigan Avenue retail.” The city’s landmarks staff would monitor renovations with an eye toward making sure the building’s landmark elements are not altered.
The London Guarantee’s come-up couldn’t happen to a nicer building — or downtown locale, for that matter. The corner of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue, for my money, is one of the finest urban vistas in America. Water, sky, architecture, people and history all meet to spectacular effect.
Here’s a view looking north across the river:
The powerful, Art Deco 333 N. Michigan nudges against the modernist tower of Illinois Center:
The Sun-Times reported a source said 360 N. Michigan sold for $57 million.