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Inside the CAA: Paving the Way for Another Kick-Ass Chicago Hotel

Where: 12 S. Michigan Ave. [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60603
September 17, 2012 at 3:19 PM | by | ()

This space will likely turn into several suites for the new Chicago hotel

Back in July we shared the news that the Chicago Athletic Association, a Venetian-Gothic landmark on Michigan Avenue, had been purchased and would soon be transformed into a 240-room hotel, adding to the city’s booming roster of new concept hotels.

Today, we’re excited to share photos of the interior, which we captured last week on an exclusive tour with Ben Weprin, founder of Chicago-based AJ Capital and one of two partners behind the purchase. John Pritzker, son of the late Jay Pritzker and founder of Hyatt Hotels, is the other partner in on the deal. The hotel has yet to be named.

Obviously, there’s still loads of dust to clear and work to be done, but you’ll see right through it just as we did. Hold on to your hats, people, because the bones of this new hotel might blow your mind. And not just because they are awesome and historic, but because they will remain a restored highlight of a fresh, new hotel that you will be able to visit.

When news broke on the purchase of the Chicago Athletic Association, photos of the famous Doges Palace-inspired exterior were showing up everywhere and most knew of the building’s history as a former gentleman’s club, but few had seen the interior, which had been closed and basically left to disrepair since 2007. The building is actually made up of two attached buildings, the 12-story Michigan Avenue front built in 1896 and the 18 story Annex added in 1926.

No gentlemen up in here: this windowless, bar used to be the perfect place for philandering members

Can you believe what we were missing? Look at the artful millwork from floor to ceiling, the gorgeous wood paneling that goes on forever, intricate mosaic—tiled floors, the abundance of gorgeous fireplaces, the ridiculous first floor pool we hope they’ll call "Lex Luther’s Lair...”

Huge, dramatic fireplaces — this one with galavanting sportsmen — will remain abundant in the public spaces

There are also several spaces that seem to need not much more than a deep clean and polish—something Weprin loves as he’s all about preserving the building’s soul. "Our entire business plan," says Weprin, "revolves around enhancing and celebrating the building's rich history and character."

For instance, there’s a window-less lounge on the second floor—the floor that will likely become the main hub of the hotel—with a wood bar that wraps around half of the room, dramatic circular recessed lighting and beautiful, giant squares of wood paneling across one wall. This room is rad and doesn't need to change one bit, save for maybe some fresh carpeting.

The hotel is situated right across from Millennium Park and the shimmery Bean—literally facing the Crown Fountain. Imagine what folks will do to score a spot on the rooftop there, especially on concert nights at the Park’s open-air, Jay Pritzker Pavillion. We also understand there will be multiple restaurants at the hotel—more great perks for guests and locals.

Millennium Park as seen from the rooftop at the Chicago Athletic Association

The Chicago hotel is far from being complete with an opening date planned for winter 2014. Right now, there's no Chicago hotel we’re more excited to see open and it'll be torture to wait that long.

[Photos: Nina Kokotas Hahn/HotelChatter]

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