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What We're Talkin' About: Willis Tower Sells For $1.3 Billion

By Danette Chavez in News on Mar 16, 2015 4:30PM

Just when you were getting used to the name, the Willis née Sears Tower has officially been sold to The Blackstone Group for $1.3 billion.The final selling price came in a little under estimate, but it blew past the the highest price ever for a Chicago office property that was set by the $850 million price tag on the sale of 300 N. LaSalle Street last May. The details were worked out over the weekend; no word yet on whether or not green beer was used to make a toast over the drying ink.

Blackstone, a private equity real estate investor, has "shopped" in Chicago before— in 2007, they made history with their purchase of the Equity Office Properties Trust for $36 billion. Equity Office is the largest office building landlord in the country, so this latest addition to Blackstone's portfolio is almost a bargain buy.

They've made no bones about how they're looking to spend a pretty penny in Chicago's office and retail real estate market. Jacob Werner, a managing director at the firm, said they see "great potential in further improving both the building's retail operations and the tourist experience for one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Chicago." Jonathan Gray of Blackstone's real estate group said that the company has plans to make the Willis Tower a more "comprehensive tourist attraction." To that end, Blackstone wants to increase the number of retail tenants as well as upgrade the Skydeck to make it more competitive with other skyscrapers around the country.