Sterling Bay moves forward on Loop proposal with help from the Crown family

A. Steven Crown, father of Sterling Bay principal Keating Crown, signed a disclosure indicating a stake in the project

Sterling Bay managing principal Keating Crown and 300 North Michigan Avenue (Renderings via Concha Mora)
Sterling Bay managing principal Keating Crown and 300 North Michigan Avenue (Renderings via Concha Mora)

The heavyweight group of investors backing a new 47-story hotel and residential tower in the Loop just got heavier.

A. Steven Crown, a scion of the billionaire Crown family and the father of Sterling Bay managing principal Keating Crown, signed an economic disclosure indicating an investment of at least 7.5 percent in the proposal for 300 North Michigan Avenue, according to a planned development application introduced to the City Council Wednesday.

Sterling Bay unveiled its bid earlier this year to join Magellan Development Group and Wanxiang America Real Estate Group in the proposal, which would replace a four-story brick building with a tower comprising 280 hotel rooms and 260 residential units just south of the Chicago River.

It would be Sterling Bay’s first ground-up development in the heart of Downtown, and one of its first-ever multifamily projects. Before the development firm trotted out plans for its signature Lincoln Yards mega-development last year, it mostly focused on building and rehabbing office properties, especially in Fulton Market.

The planned development application filed this week kicks off the developer’s formal request for a zoning change that must be approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council in order to take effect. Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged to curb “aldermanic privilege” over development approvals but has so far left it to individual council members to decide zoning changes, so it falls to Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) to give the project his blessing.

It could be one of the first proposals to come before the City Council Zoning Committee since Alderman Tom Tunney (44th) became its newest chairman this week.

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The city’s affordable housing rules require the developer to provide for at least 29 affordable units, or 10 percent of the building’s total. But only 2.5 percent — in this case, seven units — must be located on site. Sterling Bay could make up the rest by paying nearly $183,000 per unit into the city’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund.

The application did not say how many affordable units Sterling Bay would include in the building.

A. Steven Crown is the grandson of Lester Crown, who founded Material Service Corporation in 1919 and built a fortune selling construction materials to Chicago-area builders. In 2015, Forbes calculated the family’s net worth at $8.8 billion.

Crown signed the disclosure on behalf of Crown SBC Investor LLC, a Delaware-based entity he controls.

Sterling Bay partnered with JPMorgan Asset Management to fund most of its recent projects, including Lincoln Yards. Since last year, the developer spent more than $1 billion scooping up high-profile Downtown office properties like Prudential Plaza and the Groupon headquarters.

Representatives of Sterling Bay and Reilly’s office did not respond to requests for comment.