Chicago’s own Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), the second-tallest building in the United States behind One World Trade Center, may be up for a record sale. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times yesterday, Willis Tower could be sold for as much as $1.5 billion. This eye-popping price is a clear signal for just how hot the Chicago downtown market is in 2015.
The Sears Tower was built in 1970 by once-iconic Sears Roebuck Company, the largest retailer in the United States with about 350,000 employees at its peak. The tower was built to serve as a central office space for Sears. Designed by famed Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architects, it took 12,000 construction workers three years to build.
In 1988, Sears Roebuck and Company sold and moved out of the building, but the Sears Tower name remained the same. It was renamed Willis Tower in 2009 after the Willis Group Holdings, the global insurance broker who calls the Tower its Midwest home.
In July 2009, U.S. Equities led the design and construction of a multi-million dollar renovation of Skydeck Chicago, including the development of The Ledge, a series of glass bays on the 103rd floor that extend from the building providing visitors with unobstructed views of Chicago through the windows and glass floors – 1,353 feet straight down. In addition to The Ledge, the new Skydeck visitor center features museum-quality interactive exhibits. The opening of The Ledge has provided the Skydeck with record-breaking visitor counts consistently since its debut.
Such a giant project would defy simple calculation at sale time, but I can’t resist one simple crunch of the numbers: Assuming a typical 6% broker fee on the sale of a $1.5B property, the fee comes in at $90 million. That’s a figure that will give anybody vertigo.