CHICAGO, May 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Commune Hotels & Resorts today proudly announces the opening of the 241-room luxury, boutique Chicago Athletic Association hotel, following the groundbreaking restoration of the iconic 1890 vintage building. A foremost presence in the Chicago community for more than a century, Chicago Athletic Association’s two-year restoration is the result of a visionary partnership among AJ Capital Partners, Geolo Capital, Agman Partners, Commune Hotels & Resorts, Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture and the award-winning design firm, Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors. Poised to once again become the epicenter of the city’s thriving social scene, Chicago Athletic Association features 17,000 square feet of stunning event space, elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites, and a multitude of innovative and interactive culinary experiences, including Cindy’s – a rooftop lounge with breathtaking views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan – restaurant concepts by Land & Sea Dept., and Shake Shack.
“I am humbled to be a part of the Herculean efforts to breathe new life into the Chicago Athletic Association as a tribute to those who created a building for the ages,” said John Pritzker, chairman of Commune Hotels & Resorts and founding partner of Geolo Capital. “As a fourth-generation Chicagoan, it is an honor to reintroduce the powerful spirit of the Chicago Athletic Association to the next generation of Chicagoans and travelers alike.”
Located on Chicago’s fashionable Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park, Chicago Athletic Association builds upon its storied legacy as one of the nation’s most revered private members clubs and a cornerstone of American organized sports. Founded in 1890 during a period when athletic associations were created to serve as places to network and foster business relationships, Chicago Athletic Association was started by a collection of prominent families whose names have become synonymous with American sport and athletic commerce, such as Wrigley, Comiskey, and Spalding. The Chicago Athletic Association hotel will continue to celebrate the club’s high-spirited, sports-driven heritage amid its outstanding restaurants, lounges and ballrooms.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to share Chicago Athletic Association’s rich, storied heritage, and thoughtful and impassioned restoration with a new generation of guests,” said Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels & Resorts. “We look forward to continuing our commitment to serving the Chicago community with a creative and exciting range of social experiences that will become a part of this building’s iconic history.”
Originally designed by prominent architect Henry Ives Cobb and completed in 1893, the Venetian Gothic 250-foot tower, deemed a Chicago landmark, was designed to give the Chicago Athletic Association a distinctive identity when viewed from the lakefront by visitors of Chicago World’s Fair. Roman and Williams, together with Commune Hotels & Resorts, developed a unique visual language devoted to preserving the building’s original character and details while creating an atmosphere that brings Chicago Athletic Association into the 21st century. Roman and Williams utilized a range of materials throughout the building, from a rich masculine palette in the guestrooms and public spaces, to a brighter expression within Cindy’s. From early 20th-century-inspired guestrooms and colossal fireplaces with extraordinary bas-relief woodcarvings, to 19th century stained glass windows and ornate marble staircases, Chicago Athletic Association parallels the narrative of American culture and aesthetics.
The hotel’s 241 guestrooms and suites reference the traditional club rooms found in athletic associations of the past, featuring custom lacquered wooden armoires and bars, Faribault Woolen Mill Co. custom blankets and a modern take on 19th century brass beds. Each elegantly appointed room features custom Sferra linens, 42″ flat screen HD TVs, Carrara marble bathrooms, C.O. Bigelow custom bath products, and vintage boxing-inspired robes. The hotel’s mini bars are stocked with locally-sourced items as well as some of Chicago’s most well-known confections, including Cracker Jack® and Wrigley gum – invented by Chicago Athletic Association founding member William Wrigley.
The Game Room within Chicago Athletic Association embraces the spirited play and athletic qualities inspired by the club’s historical past. As a focal point of the hotel’s public spaces, the Game Room is comprised of classic recreational activities such as bocce ball, billiards, shuffleboard and chess. The space has been designed to highlight leisurely play, including an installation of vintage pool cues above the bar, a playful mural of athletic characters by LAND – a well-known artist collective from Austin, Texas – and an oversized, original Chicago Athletic Association crest. Within the Game Room, Land and Sea Dept.’s Executive Chef Peter Coenen offers a playful menu of imaginative items that nod to familiar concession classics, alongside regional snack and street food favorites. The drink menu includes Beverage Director Paul McGee’s take on classic cocktails, a selection of draft and bottled beer and a curated wine list.
Continuing with the hotel’s sports-driven spirit, Chicago Athletic Association’s gymnasium, Stagg Court, has been fully restored to its original grandeur, featuring three basketball hoops and a vintage mahogany running track encircling the room from one story above. Stagg Court will be available to guests as a recreational facility and will also serve as event space.
Chicago Athletic Association will have some of the country’s best culinary talent behind its unique restaurant and bar outlets, including Cindy’s, the hotel’s 13th-floor rooftop bar and restaurant; dining and bar concepts by the award-winning creative studio, Land and Sea Dept.; Shake Shack; and a boutique cafe by Vosges Haut-Chocolat, the Chicago-born haute-chocolatier.
Cindy’s boasts an airy atmosphere reminiscent of a Great Lakes beach house with sweeping views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. Executive Chef Christian Ragano’s seasonally-inspired menu features shareable plates, alongside Spirit Guide Nandini Khaund’s classic craft cocktails, large-format bottles and apothecaries.
Chicago-based Land and Sea Dept. brings its unique culinary perspective to Chicago Athletic Association with four distinct yet interconnected offerings, including the Game Room, second floor Drawing Room lobby area, Milk Room – an eight-seat micro bar serving elevated cocktails utilizing rare and vintage spirits – and the hotel’s signature restaurant, Cherry Circle Room. A reinvention of the iconic establishment from the original social club, Cherry Circle Room features a rustic yet refined menu of creative takes on regional classics from Executive Chef Peter Coenen. Paul McGee oversees the drinks program for the venues, which features variations on classic cocktails and house specialties.
Shake Shack, located on the ground floor, is a modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, crinkle cut fries, beer and wine, and more. This Shake Shack, the second in Chicago, has been custom designed by Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors to create a space that seamlessly fits the historic architectural style of the great building while layering in traditional brand elements.
Celebrated Chicago independent retailers Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel of Space519 will introduce Madison Hall, the retail component within Chicago Athletic Association. Occupying two storefronts along the hotel’s Madison Street entrance, Madison Hall will consist of two shops offering modern lifestyle products, including a curated selection of Rizzoli books, Illesteva sunglasses, Sandqvist bags and more. The East space will feature special hotel sundries, unisex apothecary items, Rizzoli books, and men’s accessories in an environment that hearkens back to the original drugstores of the 1930s, complete with a barber chair where a rotating array of the city’s top stylists will offer custom haircuts. The retailer’s West space will allow shoppers to be immersed in the vibe of a prewar classic women’s boutique, replete with fresh flowers, a fragrance counter, and a highly-curated assortment of women’s accessories.
For reservations or more information, please visit chicagoathletichotel.com or call 312.940.3552.