Willis Tower gets a buyer, not a name change

 
Daily Herald News Services
Posted3/17/2015 1:00 AM
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  • The former Sears Tower, known now as the Willis Tower, has been sold again.

    The former Sears Tower, known now as the Willis Tower, has been sold again. ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

  • The former Sears Tower, known now as the Willis Tower, has been sold again.

    The former Sears Tower, known now as the Willis Tower, has been sold again. ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

  • The Willis Tower, once called the Sears Tower, from 233 South Wacker LLC for an undisclosed amount. The Willis Tower is 110-stories and the second-tallest office building in the U.S. It is the fifth-tallest office building in the world.

    The Willis Tower, once called the Sears Tower, from 233 South Wacker LLC for an undisclosed amount. The Willis Tower is 110-stories and the second-tallest office building in the U.S. It is the fifth-tallest office building in the world. Assocated Press File

The Willis Tower, formerly named the Sears Tower and still called that by many, is getting acquired, reportedly for $1.3 billion.

The name is not expected to change again, even though some online commenters think the buyer's name fits the black edifice.

Blackstone Group LP's Real Estate Partners VII will acquire the 110-story building, the second tallest in the United States, the New York-based company said in a statement today.

The current deal for the naming rights doesn't expire until 2025.

Published reports say the deal is worth about $1.3 billion, although Blackstone did not release the amount. The sellers are a group including New York-based investors Joseph Chetrit and Joseph Moinian, and American Landmark Properties Ltd.

The 1,450-foot Willis Tower was last sold in 2004 for $841 million, a Chicago record until Irvine Co.'s $850 million purchase of 300 N. LaSalle St. last year. The building has an observatory on the 103rd floor that's one of Chicago's top tourist attractions, especially since the addition of the Ledge, an enclosed glass-floored balcony that extends four feet out from the building.

Here's more about Blackstone's real estate group:

• It's one of the largest real estate private equity firms in the world with about $81 billion of assets under management.

• The group improves properties through hands-on management and touts a philosophy of "buy it, fix it, sell it." At Willis, that reportedly entails upgrading retail space at the observatory.

• Blackstone has a team of more than 200 real estate professionals around the world.

• Its portfolios include properties in the United States, Europe and Asia, with a mix of hotels, office, retail, industrial, residential and health care investments.

• Since late 2009, when markets appeared to be bottoming, Blackstone's real estate funds invested or committed to invest $40.9 billion in investor capital.

•Bloomberg News, MarketWatch, Associated Press and Blackstone.com contributed to this report.

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