Plans to build a 1,200-room Marriott Marquis convention hotel just west of McCormick Place encountered a legal obstacle Monday when the site owner sued the city of Chicago.

The owner, 121 E. Cermak LLC, an entity led by construction executive James McHugh, together with his eponymous construction company, would like to construct a six-story electronic data center on the site, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

McHugh and the city have been involved in negotiations for a purchase of the site but the Chicago City Council also has authorized the filing of a eminent domain lawsuit. As yet, such a lawsuit has not been filed, according to the McHugh complaint.

The hotel is envisioned as part of a planned entertainment district anchored by a multi-use arena that would be home to DePaul University basketball. The property is on East Cermak Road, between Michigan and Indiana Avenues.

The plaintiffs contend the city does not have the right to hold up necessary permitting just because it wants to work with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the owner of the convention complex, to purchase the property for a hotel development.

A spokesman for the city’s legal department declined comment, saying the city has not been served with the McHugh lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the court to compel the city to complete its review of permit applications for a data center on the site.

McHugh “wants a foundation permit so the project can get moving along,” said attorney Richard Ramello.

McPeir still needs to acquire several parcels on a kitty-corner block for the arena and a 500-room boutique hotel. It has filed eminent domain lawsuits in its pursuit of two of those properties.

kbergen@tribune.com ___