Real Estate

360 Chicago Acquires Former Signature Room Floors for Public Attraction

360 Chicago acquires 95th and 96th floors of 875 North Michigan Avenue to revitalize Magnificent Mile.

By Doug Elli

6/10, 15:03 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • 360 Chicago acquired the 95th and 96th floors of the former John Hancock Center, planning public access but not a restaurant.
  • The investment by Magnicity, which owns 360 Chicago, signals potential for innovative uses of vacant properties on the struggling Magnificent Mile.
  • Foot traffic is rebounding with new investments like Starbucks Reserve Roastery, though more diverse dining options are needed for revitalization.

Revitalizing Chicago's Iconic Skyline

The former Signature Room and Signature Lounge, once a hallmark of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, has found a new owner with ambitious plans to rejuvenate the space. The operator of the 360 Chicago observation deck has acquired the 95th and 96th floors of the former John Hancock Center, now known as 875 North Michigan Avenue. This acquisition, directly above their existing 94th-floor observation deck, marks a significant development in the ongoing efforts to revitalize the area. While the terms of the deal with the previous owners, Madison Capital and PGIM Real Estate, remain undisclosed, the new owners have confirmed that the space will not reopen as a restaurant but will remain accessible to the public.

Transforming a Landmark

The new owners, 360 Chicago, have yet to finalize their plans for the space, but managing director Nichole Benolken has assured that it will not become an exclusive private club. Instead, the focus will be on creating a spectacular public attraction. This move is part of a broader strategy to breathe new life into the Magnificent Mile, which has struggled with high retail vacancies and decreased foot traffic since the pandemic. The closure of the Signature Room in September was a stark reminder of these challenges, but 360 Chicago’s investment signals a potential turnaround.

The Magnificent Mile's Struggles and Hopes

The Magnificent Mile has faced significant challenges, with retail vacancies soaring to 30 percent last year. The pandemic exacerbated these issues, leading to a decrease in downtown foot traffic and a rise in e-commerce. However, there are signs of recovery. Foot traffic is starting to rebound, and new establishments like the Starbucks Reserve Roastery are replacing former retail spaces. The investment by 360 Chicago is a positive development, demonstrating the potential for innovative uses of vacant properties. Magnificent Mile Association CEO Kimberly Bares expressed optimism, noting that such investments could pave the way for a revitalized shopping district.

Broader Implications for Urban Development

The acquisition and planned transformation of the former Signature Room space by 360 Chicago is emblematic of broader trends in urban development. The focus on creating public attractions rather than exclusive venues reflects a shift towards more inclusive and innovative uses of urban spaces. This approach is not unique to Chicago; Magnicity, the French company that owns 360 Chicago, operates similar observation decks in cities like Rotterdam, Berlin, and Paris, with plans to expand to Warsaw. These developments highlight the importance of adaptive reuse in urban revitalization efforts.