Chicago builder's prize is Waldorf

Published: 9/30/2007 5:59 AM

It wasn't so long ago that Michael Reschke was one of the biggest names in Chicago real estate, and the company he built developed or acquired more than $10 billion worth of properties.

He founded his development company while in his 20s and constructed a Chicago skyscraper by the age of 36. His Chicago-based Prime Group thrived during the 1990s, spinning off five publicly traded real-estate companies. But he ended up losing his office company in part because of a gamble he took with Blackstone Group LP, and the retail company he founded was sold against his will.

Now Reschke is mounting a big comeback, with $2 billion worth of projects planned or under construction. The most prestigious is a Waldorf-Astoria hotel and residence towers in Chicago that he plans to develop for Hilton Hotels Corp. The $500 million project will offer 325 rooms in a five-star hotel and 300 luxury condominiums in a sleek modern building about a block from the Chicago River.

Other projects Reschke, 51, has in the works include a luxury condominium building under way on the Gold Coast near Lake Michigan and a JW Marriott hotel that will go in a landmarked building designed by Daniel Burnham in the financial district.

If Reschke's projects, which also include an Embassy Suites hotel, all are built as planned, they would increase the city's hotel room supply by almost 4 percent.

With all his projects, how does Reschke know he won't get in over his head? Seated in his 25th-floor offices, he glanced around a conference room plastered with plans of projects. "It's not that many," he said. "How can I be overextended? I still have room on the walls for more drawings."