The Real Deal Chicago

Sam Zell to exit Chicago office market with sale of O’Hare complex

The billionaire real estate investor is selling the Triangle Plaza for $143M
July 26, 2018 09:00AM

Sam Zell and views of Triangle Plaza at 8750 and 8770 West Bryn Mawr Avenue (Credit: Getty and Equity Commonwealth)

Sam Zell is poised to exit the Chicago office market after finalizing a deal to sell his last remaining complex in the area.

Zell’s Equity Commonwealth is working on a deal to sell the Triangle Plaza on the city’s Northwest Side to Hawaii-based Shidler Group for about $143 million, according to Crain’s. The plaza near O’Hare Airport is Equity Commonwealth’s last remaining Chicago-area office building.

Equity has been shedding office properties for some time: the Chicago-based REIT now owns 22 office buildings, down from 156 at the end of 2014, when CEO David Helfand was installed.

The company was down to two Chicago office properties entering this year. But in February, Zell sold Groupon’s headquarters in River West to Chicago mega developer Sterling Bay for $510 million.

If the deal for the Triangle Plaza goes through, Equity will net a 49 percent profit on the property it bought in 2010 for $96 million, according to Crain’s.

The selloff leave Zell’s company with more than $3.2 billion in cash at the end of March. That stockpile will be used to buy up properties when the market takes a turn, Zell said in May.

“And we’re just sitting there, waiting for the world to come to us,” he told Bloomberg at the time.

Office demand is strong in the O’Hare submarket, with a vacancy rate of 14.3 percent at the end of the first quarter, well below the overall suburban office vacancy rate.

In March, New-York based Angelo Gordon paid $148 million for Presidents Plaza, an 835,000-square-foot office complex down the street from the Triangle Plaza in the O’Hare submarket. [Crain’s] — Joe Ward