Virgin Hotels scouting Chicago for possible development

CHICAGO Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels is reportedly scouting Chicago for a location for the new brand, recently breaking off talks with a building owner that would have put a 189-key hotel in the city’s East Loop area.

Virgin Hotels is named in a pending bankruptcy case involving the 17-story building, the former Chicago Motor Club, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. Virgin was in talks with building owner Sam Roti. Virgin told Roti that it was considering investing as much as US$10 million into a US$74 million project, including the construction of a new tower next door.

The property is tied up in a foreclosure dispute between Roti and lender Aries Capital LLC. Virgin cut off talks with Roti last month.

Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly tells Crain’s that he expects to meet with Virgin executives in the next couple of weeks about other sites.

Branson’s Virgin Airlines will begin service in May out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.