THOR EQUITIES, New Owners of the Palmer House, Says 'All Systems Go' for the Historic Chicago Hotel

May 11, 2006, 01:00 ET from THOR EQUITIES

    CHICAGO, May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The much anticipated restoration of the
 historic Palmer House Hilton since being acquired by THOR EQUITIES last
 year is moving ahead on schedule according to Mary Ann Cronin, Director of
 Development for THOR EQUITIES.
     "Today's meeting with the City of Chicago's Commission on Chicago
 landmarks and the positive votes is an important first step in THOR
 EQUITIES exciting restoration plans for the Palmer House Hilton. THOR
 couldn't be more pleased or grateful for this vital demonstration of
 support and encouragement the city has given us today," said Margaret
 Tobin, Executive Vice President of Development, THOR EQUITIES.
     "The timing of the restoration and rejuvenation of the Palmer House
 couldn't be more perfect," according to J. Peter Lynn, Palmer House Hilton
 general manager. The Chicago hotel market has been experiencing a
 tremendous growth in the past year with a number of leisure and
 business-oriented new hotels announced and beginning construction. "The
 Palmer House needs to be competitive, and our new owner's exciting and
 innovative plans over the next three years will return the Palmer House to
 its rightful place as one of the world's great hotels, and most assuredly
 one of the top hotels in Chicago. Hilton Hotels Corporation is delighted
 with THOR EQUITIES overwhelming commitment to the rebirth of the Palmer
 House. We are especially pleased that with all the new enhancements and
 upgrades to take place within and outside the hotel, our new owners are
 taking great pains to maintain, even enhance the historical integrity of
 the property," Lynn said.
     "Plans are in the final stages of development and the commencement of
 phase one should begin sometime during the fourth quarter of the year,"
 Cronin said. Cronin adds that specifics of the $150 million dollar
 comprehensive project will be revealed in early fall -- probably
 mid-September, but highlights just a few of restoration project's features:
 The unsightly exterior fire escapes and grill-like covers that camouflage
 them on the State street side of the hotel, dogging it for decades, will be
 removed and replaced with interior fire exit stairwells. Hotel guests can
 look forward to indoor parking, thanks to the creation of an interior
 parking garage that is part of the rejuvenation portion of the hotel.
 Further, guests will be greeted at both the Monroe and Wabash Street
 entrances of the hotel under newly reconfigured and lit canopies. Dramatic
 sky lights will create an open and inviting feeling.
     The redesign of the Monroe street entrance includes relocating the
 spectacular hand-forged, bronze doors with their majestic peacock motif
 that were the signature of Chicago's first incorporated business, C.D.
 Peacock. "The relocation to the Monroe street entrance of the hotel will
 put them in a place where these magnificent doors can be better seen and
 appreciated," Cronin said. Being sensitive to the historical significance
 of the former C.D. Peacock jewelry emporium (now Ultra Diamonds), the
 retention and restoration of the original storefronts will return the
 corner of Monroe and State to its original glory and splendor.
     Accommodations included in the rejuvenation program are 1,000 remodeled
 rooms, and 54 new suites, all with a focus on hospitality functions. A
 dramatic 4,000 square foot penthouse suite, costing over $9 million dollars
 will be the most luxurious of its kind in the city.
     Still further plans include a full day spa, and a totally upgraded
 fitness center. Prominent in THOR EQUITIES plans for the Palmer House
 Hilton is a completely redesigned street arcade and State street frontage
 targeted to attract upscale retail operations more in line with today's
 higher retailer expectations. This new design will clearly make a statement
 about the Palmer House's entrance into its third century of operation --
 again, being sensitive to its history.
     "The restoration of what has been called, 'the Chicago hotel the world
 knows best' is truly going to be a labor of love for all those involved,"
 Joseph J. Sitt, President & CEO of THOR EQUITIES said. "Moreover, our
 company's acquisition of the Palmer House and its return to grandeur is
 demonstrative of the reawakening of the downtown Chicago area, particularly
 the developments taking place south of the Chicago River. Clearly, a new
 chapter is being written in downtown Chicago's history. We believe THOR
 EQUITIES is leading the charge," Sitt added.
     "The Palmer House is a welcome addition to THOR's outstanding portfolio
 of properties," said Sitt. "We are excited by the opportunity to further
 improve its stature through a $150 million dollar restoration and
 renovation program that will include an exciting new retail component. When
 the details and specifics of the program are released in September, the
 Palmer House will be making news throughout the world," Sitt said.