Chicago’s Wealthiest Real Estate Moguls
Chicago has produced some of the top real estate assets in the country. Here are the local real estate tycoons with the biggest bank accounts, a la Forbes.
Sam Zell - $4.9B
When we last saw sharp-tongued Sam Zell, of Equity family fame, at DLA Piper’s real estate summit this fall, he was feeling angsty about the government stalling on issues like immigration reform and corporate tax policy. He’s predicting continued Millennial migration to smaller urban apartments (spurred by their delay of marriage), and globally he’s sweet on Colombia and Mexico. (Fun fact: The motorcycle aficionado travels 1,200 hours/year.) “The Grave Dancer” owned Chicago mainstays like the Trib (and by extension the Cubs) at various points, with controversy never far behind.
JB Pritzker - $3.4B
JB’s taken his real estate wealth (from the Hyatt Hotel fortune) and spent it on making Chicago the country’s next big tech mecca after Silicon Valley. He founded 1871, seed fund Chicago Ventures and chairs the City’s ChicagoNEXT, which put on this year’s inaugural Chicago Venture Summit. 1871 has certainly been a boon for the Mart, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see JB follow tech’s movement to the West Loop with a future entrepreneurship-focused venture.
Thomas Pritzker - $3.1B
Thomas (left) is the only Pritzker still involved with Hyatt Hotels (he’s chairman), the main reason you see so many of them still dotting the billionaires list. His 14% stake in the international hotel company is in a much better place post-recession, as travel picks up on all fronts. Last year with his sister Gigi branched into steel mill servicing with the $1B acquisition of TMS International Corp.
Neil Bluhm - $2.9B
In addition to being a casino king, Neil (here with Marshall Bennett) owns prime Mag Mile real estate, along with the Ritz and Four Seasons. In Houston, you’ll find his name on First City Tower and in LA most of the Century City district. At a Bisnow event this year, Neil’s Walton Street partner Jeff Quicksilver told us the firm’s strategy is to manufacture core real estate, and they’ve invested over $2B of equity (locally in assets like the Thompson Chicago and Hotel Lincoln).
Ty Warner - $2.4B
Ty’s life could make a great Lifetime biopic: From Beanie Babies baron to convict for tax evasion (currently on probation). Ty made his fortune initially peddling the plush toys in the early ‘90s, and you probably remember scoffing at the $5 price tag when your children begged for 10 of them. Ty branched into real estate in the 2000s with Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts, including the Four Seasons in NYC.