Major Chicago Hotel Sues Contractor and Architect

Real Estate Appraiser with PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy

Among Chicago’s grand Magnificent Mile, people have come to appreciate many fine hotels from the historic Drake Hotel, to The Four Seasons, and the Millennium Knickerbocker. 

As you walk up to the entrance, and as you walk through the lobby, you get a feeling that you’ve just entered an opera house in Europe.  


Although this hotel has been in existence since 1927 as the Davis Hotel, it was acquired by the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels PLC in 1999 along with 27 other hotels around the country.

Back in 2008, the hotel group decided to undertake a multi million dollar renovation of the Knickerbocker, and hired Leopardo Cos, based in Hoffman Estates, and Gibson/Darr Archetecture & Consulting Inc. to provide the services. 

Much to their dismay, the hotel is now suing both companies, claiming that the air and exhaust systems  in the guestrooms, hallways and bathrooms were failing; showers were not waterproofed properly resulting in water damage in the ceilings, walls, and light fixtures.  Sagging drywall in the ceilings, and damage to the façade are other items added to the list.

According to the official complaint,‘The hotel has incurred, and will incur, millions of dollars in additional costs.”

Neither the architectural firm or the Knickerbocker have made official statements at this time, however there was a statement made by a spokesperson for Leopardo in an email only at this point. 

It read, “We work to exceed client expectations by going the extra mile, which is what we did on this renovation project.  We have since learned that the nearly 90-year-old building has system design challenges, which were not accounted or budgeted for during the project design and engineering phases by Millennium Knickerbocker. While it is our policy to not discuss pending legal proceedings, we are confident in the quality and legality of our work.”

The hotel isn’t just seeking damages for “corrective work,” but they are asking for damages regarding lost revenue for the rooms they were unable to book due to “necessary repairs.” 

Although an estimated dollar amount has not yet been determined, the original contract with Leopardo for the scope of work was for $14.7 million.


In a city like Chicago, there are always challenges that come with renovating an older building.  Building codes and materials were very different, which usually results in additional costs.  It should be interesting to see how this plays out.


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