Chris Baker succeeds Bob Six as Zeller CEO

Will have to navigate challenges facing office sector

Chicago Office Landlord Zeller Realty Names New CEO
Zeller Realty's Bob Six and Chris Baker (Zeller Realty, Getty)

Zeller Realty has a new leader who will have to navigate a murky office sector. 

Chris Baker has been appointed CEO of the Chicago-based firm, succeeding Bob Six, who held the position for four years, Crain’s reported. Six will remain with the company as principal. 

Baker, 48, joined Zeller in 2013 and has served as president since 2019. He will be the company’s third CEO since it was founded in 1988.

Zeller, a commercial real estate investor and developer, is best known as an office landlord. The firm’s Chicago portfolio includes 311 South Wacker Drive downtown, 2001 Spring Road in Oak Brook and 20 North Martingale Road in Schaumburg.

Six weathered the storm after the pandemic ignited the remote-work era and drove up vacancies to record highs. He also helped diversify the company’s portfolio in recent years with several multifamily developments.

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Now, Baker will have to persevere through similar challenges, with remote-work trends showing few signs of slowing, along with additional obstacles such as high interest rates and tight lending standards. 

In April, the company sold the vacancy-plagued Old Orchard Office Towers in Skokie for $7.8 million, a steep drop from the $64 million it paid in 2007. The property had been refinanced in 2018 with a $59.6 million mortgage, but its largest tenant vacated during the pandemic. Similarly, Zeller’s Wacker Drive tower has seen several prominent tenants leave, crushing its value to a fraction of the $302 million it paid in 2014 in a joint venture with Cindat Capital Management.

Despite some setbacks in recent years, the firm boasts a successful track record in the office realm. Zeller turned a big profit in 2018 when it sold the Wrigley Building to a venture led by billionaire Joe Mansueto. Furthermore, it sold the building at 401 North Michigan Avenue in 2017 for nearly $370 million.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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