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Songy Partners LLC Acquiring the Fabled Chicago Athletic Association Clubhouse on Michigan Avenue;
Investing $100 million to Convert to a 300-room Omni Hotel with Ballroom and Athletic Facility
By Susan Diesenhouse, Chicago TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 24, 2007 - The 114-year-old home of the Chicago Athletic Association, once the playground of some of Chicago's most prominent leaders, hosted its last annual meeting Thursday evening.

On Friday, the landmark property is to be sold for $31 million to a development team that will invest an additional $100 million to preserve the two-building complex at 12 S. Michigan Ave. and 71 E. Madison St. while converting it into a luxury hotel.

"It's like a death in the family," said Mike Callahan, 48, who noted that the association will try to find a new meeting place. "I'm a fourth-generation member. I had my first Easter there, my wedding reception, and constantly came to the club with my father."

But the sale of the building where William Wrigley, Marshall Field and their friends exercised and socialized is an opportunity for David Songy, chief executive of Atlanta-based Songy Partners LLC, and his partner firm in this development, Cleveland-based Snider-Cannata Interests LLC.

"Architecturally, it's one of the most striking buildings in the country, and once completed it will be one of the finest hotels overlooking Millennium Park," Songy said Thursday.

By the end of September, the team expects to receive final city approval on historic preservation aspects of the plan and close the buildings. By late this year, the 18-month construction project should get under way, Songy said.

The 265,000-square-foot buildings will be renovated into a 300-room Omni hotel, ballroom and athletic facility, Songy said. The exterior facade and interior features such as marble floors, stained-glass windows, chandeliers and mahogany finishes will be restored.

Built in 1893, the 11-story Venetian Gothic building at 12 S. Michigan Ave. was designed by Henry Ives Cobb, replete with stylized carvings of lacrosse sticks, rackets and balls.

In 1906, the association built the Madison Street annex, designed by Schmidt, Garden & Martin. It ultimately rose to 18 stories.

Chicago-based VOA Architects will create the structures' new incarnation as a hotel.



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