Billionaire exec Ken Griffin pays $58.75 million in Chicago area's priciest home sale ever


Billionaire Ken Griffin, Illinois’ richest man, has added to his already sizable real estate portfolio in Chicago, paying $58.75 million in November for the top four floors in the recently completed Near North condominium building at 9 W. Walton St., known as No. 9 Walton.

Public records show that Griffin paid $21.17 million for the building’s penthouse unit on the 38th floor, and he paid $12.95 million for the entire 37th floor. Griffin paid $12.13 million for the entire 36th floor and $12.5 million for the 7,100-square-foot 35th floor.

Whether one considers the sales all as one combined $58.75 million purchase or considers them as four individual sales whose highest-priced one is the $21 million-plus penthouse unit, Griffin now has captured the crown of paying the most money ever for a Chicago-area home. He dethroned another billionaire, Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky, who in 2014 paid $19.5 million in cash for a vintage, 15,800-square-foot mansion on 4 acres on Lake Michigan in Glencoe.

The founder of hedge fund Citadel, Griffin bought the units two months ago through his 9 West Walton Holdings company, a Delaware limited liability company that is headquartered at Citadel’s office address in Chicago. The seller of the four units was No. 9 Walton’s developer, JDL Development.

JDL President Jim Letchinger confirmed that Griffin is the buyer.

“He’s proud to live in Chicago, and proud to live in this building,” Letchinger said.

Letchinger declined to say the exact size of the combined units, but called the figure more than 25,000 square feet.

Letchinger said there are 70 units in No. 9 Walton, and all but two are under contract. No. 9 Walton residents will start moving in March 1, he noted. The deals of buyers who purchased raw space, like Griffin, have already closed. All other buyers remain under contract, with closings expected to take place as buyers take delivery of finished units in the coming weeks, Letchinger said.

One needs a scorecard to keep track of all of Griffin’s real estate around the U.S. He owns a full-floor unit on the 37th floor of the Waldorf Astoria, which he purchased in 2014 for $13.3 million, and he owns the top two floors in the Park Tower. He purchased the top-floor unit on the 67th floor in 2000 for $6.9 million, and he bought the 66th floor in 2012 for $15 million. He also paid $200 million in 2015 for three full floors of a luxury condo tower in midtown Manhattan. In addition, Griffin has owned properties elsewhere in the U.S., including in Aspen, Colo.; Palm Beach, Fla.; and Hawaii.

Source: Bob Goldsborough


Supertall Vista Tower gets permit for complete build-out

The under-construction tower is on its way to rising 95 stories

Vista Tower Residences

While construction on the Studio Gang-designed Vista Tower formally kicked off last autumn, the project’s developers are just now getting the final construction permit allowing for the full build-out. Issued last week, the permit means that workers are free to continue erecting what will eventually become a 95-story tower and Chicago’s third tallest building.

The upcoming Vista Tower is moving along full steam ahead and is already making a visible impact on the Lakeshore East area. Unlike the high profile tower projects proposed in the years before the recession, several of which stalled out or never made it off the ground, the latest class of skyline-altering skyscrapers are already taking shape.

Enormous in its scope, the 1,186-foot Vista Tower will contain 406 luxury condos and a 192-room five-star hotel. The project has been reported to cost upwards of $1 billion to construct, and the estimated cost of construction on the recent permit certainly backs up the claim. The fee alone on the latest permit cost developers Magellan Group and Dalian Wanda Group nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

But the costs will make the project worth it for the tower’s developers. As of last summer, Magellan Group and Dalian Wanda Group had already lined up $200 million in sales for the luxury units. Available listings start at nearly $1 million for one-bedroom units and climb all the way up to $10.3 million for a spacious 6,500-square-foot unit on the 85th floor.

Construction on the upcoming supertall skyscraper will continue for the next two and a half years with delivery expected in 2020.

Source Chicago Curbed

60-Story-Hotel-And-Condo Tower Proposed For River North

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd)

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd)

An ambitious 60-story hotel-and-condominium tower will be heading to River North if the project's developer gets its way. The skyscraper would be the tallest building in the neighborhood in nearly ten years. Beyond a dramatic skyline alteration, the tower could also clear out some historic, architecturally significant buildings on Superior Street, as Curbed points out.
The proposal, which comes from New York-based Symmetry Property Development, was made public in Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd)'s email newsletter. Proposed for the northeast corner of Superior Street and Wabash Avenue, the mixed-use skyscraper would include 216 hotel rooms, 120 timeshare units, 246 condos and some 30,000 square feet of retail space, if constructed.
In 2015, the same developer introduced plans similar concept, but only 36 stories, for the site, but that proposal never got off the ground.
Aside from its dramatic height, the tower could significantly alter the block at the street level, where, just two blocks west of the Magnificent Mile, a collection of Italianate buildings line part of the Superior St. corridor, Curbed notes.
Symmetry will present their plan for the tower to the community on Monday, March 13, at 6 p.m., at the Sofitel Chicago (20 E. Chestnut St.), at a meeting that will also include Reilly and the River North Residents Association.

Source Chicagoist

Will Chinese investors still love Chicago tomorrow?

Photo by Chikoo Patel

Photo by Chikoo Patel

A Chicago firm and Chinese partner teamed up to build Vista Tower along the Chicago River.

Chinese investors poured more than $2 billion into Chicago real estate the past two years after flying over the city forever. Yet just as Chicago finally is o the radar in China, two forces may keep more investors from landing here: President Donald Trump's tough talk toward their country and China's own tighter controls on money leaving the nation.

"It would be a huge lost opportunity for Chicago" if Chinese investment were to slow, says David Carlins, president of Chicago-based Magellan Development Group, which has Chinese partners on several projects. "I think Chicago is on the tipping point of being recognized as a large opportunity for Chinese investment."

From 2010 to 2014, Chinese investors spent a paltry $442 million on commercial real estate in metro Chicago, according to Real Capital Analytics. Then in 2015 and 2016, they bankrolled five times that much—$2.2 billion. And that excludes ground-up developments, which are not tracked by the New York-based firm.

One ground-up development, 93-story Vista Tower, which Magellan and Chinese investment partner Wanda Commercial Properties began constructing last year along the Chicago River near Lake Shore Drive, is expected to cost $1 billion alone. The hotel and condominium tower, designed by Jeanne Gang, will be the city's third-tallest building.

For now, while the Trump administration is still formulating trade and investment policies, Chinese investors are continuing to buy in Chicago, with two deals totaling $475 million in the first seven weeks of 2017.

Chicago office sales broker Blake Johnson, an executive vice president at CBRE, visited China shortly after Trump was elected in November to meet with a large number of real estate investment companies. Although politics were a hot topic, "only one firm we met with told us that American investment plans were on hold as a result of the 'orange swan,' " Johnson says, using some foreign investors' term for Trump's election.

"From what I can tell, there's more interest now than there was before Trump," says Michael Smith, managing partner of Baker & McKenzie's Chicago office and one of four members of the firm's global real estate steering committee. "It's sparked more interest, and it may be because they want to get in before the door closes."

But others say that despite their deepening fondness for Chicago, overseas investors may pause as they wait for potential Trump administration changes to the tax code, the EB-5 program—which allows foreigners to become U.S. residents if they invest in real estate and other business ventures—and other policies regarding foreign investments.

"There are various tweets (by Trump), some of them contradictory, but there's no hard policy that's come out yet," says Jim Costello, a senior vice president at Real Capital Analytics. "That's creating an awful lot of uncertainty in the economy, and I think that's already having an impact on the property market. I think some investors are sitting on the sideline for a moment, taking a breather and waiting to see what happens in terms of some of these potential changes."

Chinese investors, meanwhile, are facing tougher internal restrictions on sending money out of China for overseas deals to keep its currency from weakening and reserves from dwindling further.

Investments by Chinese in North American real estate and hospitality totaled $17.4 billion in 2016, an over threefold rise from $5.3 billion in 2015, according to a report by Baker & McKenzie. Even so, deals involving Chinese make up a relatively small percentage of Chicago sales and developments. But Chinese investors are often willing to take on the biggest projects, such as Vista Tower, which are the most difficult to finance. "A lot of Chinese investors want to hit home runs," Costello says.

Wanda is led by China's richest man, Wang Jianlin. Success on Wanda's first Chicago project could capture the attention of deep-pocketed investors in China and elsewhere. "Because so many people follow and respect Wanda, you can see the momentum building," Carlins says.

Already this year, Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, whose vast holdings include Hainan Airlines, has struck a nearly $360 million deal for a 50-story office tower at 181 W. Madison St. And Ping An Insurance has made a $115 million equity commitment to Miami developer Crescent Heights' planned 76-story apartment tower in the South Loop, according to industry newsletter Real Estate Alert.

Previously, China's Cindat Capital Management and Chicago-based Zeller Realty Group paid $302 million for a 65-story office building at 311 S. Wacker Drive in 2014, and a Chicago-based real estate arm of Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group has been involved in several purchases and developments here, including Google's Midwest headquarters, an office development along the Chicago River, a Magellan apartment development in River North and several hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria in the Gold Coast.

Source Crain's Chicago Business

Chicago's Gold Coast Offers Bustling City Living with a View of Lake Michigan

New condo developments are popping up in the desirable area

Home to golden beaches, beautiful architecture and quiet, leafy streets, it’s not difficult to see the appeal of Chicago’s Gold Coast district. Centrally located, historic and by the shores of Lake Michigan, it offers laid-back big-city living and a glamorous waterside setting.

“The Gold Coast district has always been the most desirable place to live in the city and it continues to be so,” says Mark Icuss at Conlon Real Estate, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. “The architecture is beautiful, it’s a short walk from the lakefront and the shopping and dining are world class. In a nutshell, it’s everything you would want from an urban setting.”  


The neighborhood is bounded by North Avenue to the north, Chicago Avenue to the south and Clark Street to the west and the shores of Lake Michigan to the east.

Price range

Prices for entry-level condominiums can be quite affordable–just don’t expect anything too chic. A one-bedroom apartment in an older high-rise block can sell for as little as $220,000.

The most expensive homes tend to be deluxe apartments in new developments. At the Waldorf Astoria, a hotel with private residences located at 11 East Walton, standard half-floor apartments sell for around $1,000/$1100 per square foot, depending on the floor, according to Mr. Icuss.

Prices for homes at No 9 Walton, a new residential tower, are even higher. “Nearly all the homes have sold and the majority have gone for north of $1,200 per square foot with penthouse units commanding much more,” says Mr. Icuss. That particular building, he says, is in the center of the neighborhood, within short walking distance of restaurants and shops, “and the level of finish is unmatched.”

A two-bedroom apartment in Nine Walton is on the market for $1.75 million.

A two-bedroom apartment in Nine Walton is on the market for $1.75 million.

Featuring a precast limestone, granite and glass exterior, No 9 Walton has 67 two- to five-bedroom condominium homes with private terraces and 10- to 12-foot ceilings and custom tailored floor plans. A 1,950-square-foot two-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor is on the market for $1.75 million and a 7,100-square-foot five-bedroom full-floor apartment with outdoor space on the 35th floor is selling for $12.95 million.  

Houses, in general, tend to be less expensive than these new apartments. An unmodernized home would sell at $400/$500 per square foot and a fully updated home with the latest finishes and technology would roughly cost from $700 to $850 per square foot depending on the block, according to Mr. Icuss.

Housing stock

The area has everything from historic mansions and townhouses to co-op apartment buildings and deluxe high-rise condos, including newly built developments.

Astor, Dearborn and State streets are the most sought-after roads, according to Mike Kravitz, CEO of the real estate website, and Genna Hill of Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty. Located in Gold Coast proper, they are home to historic and beautiful brown and greystone houses.

South of Division Street, a road that runs through the middle of the neighborhood, has a large concentration of high-rise apartment blocks. Lake Shore Drive, which runs the length of the shoreline, is mostly lined with high-rises and older co-op buildings.  

Oak Street, a quaint shopping street home to luxury goods shops, has a number of low-rise condominiums with views of the lake.

What makes it unique?

Traditionally an upper class neighborhood, Gold Coast is tranquil, residential and rich in heritage.

Located a mile from downtown Chicago, it’s fully walkable. You’ve got some of the city’s best shops and restaurants on the doorstep.

Positioned at the southern end of the neighborhood is the Magnificent Mile, sometimes referred to as the “Mag Mile,”  a luxury shopping destination that is home to upscale department stores including Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

It’s right near Lake Michigan and the Lakefront Trail, a paved path located along the lake’s foreshore and beaches. Thanks to the lake’s calm blue waters, it’s a popular place to go boating; the neighborhood is home to one of the most sought-after marinas: the Dusable Harbor.

The lakefront really buzzes during the summer, says Mr. Icuss. “Runners, rollerbladers and cyclists are on the path, families are out for walks, there’s volleyball matches going on and the beachside restaurants are packed.”

Luxe amenities

There are posh shops galore on Oak Street including Jimmy Choo, Hermes and Prada and the aforementioned Mag Mile is on the doorstep.

The neighborhood’s most popular and well-known bars and restaurants are clustered around Mariano Park. Tavern on Rush, an upscale steak restaurant, café and bar, Nico Osteria, a fine-dining spot serving rustic Italian fare and Gibsons, a classic American steakhouse with a bar, are among the best.

There is also Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House, a seafood restaurant known for its steak, frogs’ legs and crab legs, and Maple and Ash, a modern steakhouse which opened earlier this year.   

Housed in the showroom of the furniture retailer Restoration Hardware is 3 Arts Club Café, a café set in a covered courtyard with a glass ceiling and lush greenery.

Who lives there?

Old-money families as well as well-paid professionals such as business and tech executives, high-level financiers, lawyers, bankers and a host of professional athletes.

Notable residents

Chicago Bulls player Dwyane Wade is said to be renting a home in the neighborhood.


Agents say that luxury condominium developments such as the Waldorf residences and No 9 Walton are selling well. Ms. Hill says: “There is huge demand at the top end of the market for high-spec contemporary homes.”

View of the kitchen at unit 3500 in No 9 Walton

View of the kitchen at unit 3500 in No 9 Walton

“Older, outdated homes in co-operative buildings do not command the same premiums as full-amenity newly built condominium buildings, but they are still attractive to buyers who want unobstructed views of the lake,” says Mr. Icuss.

Mr. Kravitz agrees: “Older properties with high asking prices are not selling. The fastest selling homes are at 4 East Elm and No 9 Walton.”

Source Mansion Global