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One Of Downtown's Largest Hotels Hits The Market As A Redevelopment Play

Chicago Hotel
Congress Plaza Hotel

The Congress Plaza Hotel is one of Chicago's oldest and largest hotels. The owners of the 871-room hotel are seeking a buyer, in what is being billed as a redevelopment opportunity near the heart of downtown and McCormick Place's convention business.

Owner Albert Nasser Shayo, who had a $275M deal to sell the hotel fall through five years ago, retained the Carlton Group from New York and Skokie-based Vandon Forbes to market the building to prospective buyers. The hotel was originally built to accommodate visitors to Chicago for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and underwent two major renovations in the early 1900s to bring the total footprint to 1M SF. It is being marketed as a "fee simple acquisition opportunity," meaning there are no franchise agreements or management contracts that may hold back a sale. The Congress was famously home to the longest labor strike in U.S. history: housekeeping and maintenance workers walked off the job in June 2003 and did not return to their jobs until May 2013.

Any future buyer has a wide range of adaptive reuse possibilities. It could be repurposed into rentals or condos. The hotel's street-level retail is underutilized and can be expanded. There is plenty of back-of-house space for events and smaller conventions, and the rooftop's zoning is approved to facilitate a bar or restaurant with views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan.

There is plenty of nearby hotel activity. Oxford Capital is redeveloping the Essex Inn down the street. The Marriott Marquis McCormick Place is on target for a September delivery. And hoteliers Su-Mei Yen and Hui-Hsien Bert Yen started building a dual-branded hotel at 1101 South Wabash last November.