Willis Tower's Metropolitan Club getting new look, shorter name

November 15, 2017

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Ryan Ori 

The Metropolitan Club plans a multimillion-dollar upgrade of its longtime space in Willis Tower, after the private club extended its lease in Chicago’s tallest building until 2029.

The club, which was one of the first tenants in then-Sears Tower when the 110-story building opened in 1974, said it is also shortening its name to the Metropolitan.

The new name comes as the more than 1,300-member club prepares to begin a major redesign of its 40,000-square-foot space on the building’s 66th and 67th floors, according to Patrick Droesch, executive vice president of ClubCorp. Dallas-based ClubCorp owns and operates the Metropolitan and other private golf, country and business clubs.

Renovations come as the building’s owner, New York-based Blackstone Group, invests $500 million to add new amenities, including an extended base of the building that will add 300,000 square feet of retail.

The Metropolitan’s lease was set to expire at the end of 2019.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2018, with completion targeted for next fall, Droesch said. The club, which also hosts private events such as weddings and graduation parties, will remain open throughout the renovations.

“We’re contemporizing this space, changing some amenities and adding some amenities,” Droesch said. “We’re repositioning the club in concert with what Blackstone is doing to improve the rest of the building.”

New areas of the club will include Frame, a bar with food, drinks and live entertainment; Blueprint, a collaborative work area that will switch over to a cocktail bar at night; and an upscale dining area called Craftsman that will honor Chicago’s architectural heritage, specifically that of Frank Lloyd Wright, Droesch said.

The club will provide food and beverage service to office tenants and will operate the Tower House lounge and cafe on the 33rd floor; the Tone health club on the 33rd floor; and Altitude Lounge, a planned lounge accessible to building tenants alongside the Metropolitan’s space on the 66th and 67th floors.

Blackstone’s Chicago-based office unit, Equity Office, was represented in the lease by Jamey Dix, Maggie Brophy and Joy Jordan of the Telos Group. The club was represented by Brandon Wood of Corporate Realty Advisors and CBRE brokers Jon Milonas and Kyle Kamin.

Willis Tower’s redevelopment will be completed by 2020, said David Moore, senior vice president and portfolio director at Equity Office. New entrances on Jackson Boulevard and Wacker Drive are expected to open in 2019.