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Columbia College Selling Johnson Publishing Building


An important part of Chicago's African-American history is heading to the market. The Johnson Publishing building at 820 South Michigan Ave has been vacant for years. Now its owner, Columbia College Chicago, is seeking a broker to sell the 11-story, 110k SF building.

Johnson is best known for publishing Ebony and Jet magazines, which focus on black celebrities, business and culture. Columbia bought the building for $8M in 2010 and Johnson moved out two years later; the building and its landmark-worthy avant garde interiors have been empty since. Columbia, which has been a player in the South Loop's development for years, initially intended to rehab the property into a library and student center.

Columbia hopes to use the proceeds from a sale to finance construction of a new student center at Wabash Avenue and 8th Street, Crain's reports. The building is hitting the market as Johnson Publishing is selling Ebony and Jet to an Austin, TX, investment firm. Prospective buyers for the building could turn it into a hotel or multifamily. (It's next to the Essex Inn, which Oxford Capital is rehabbing.) Or it could be razed to make way for a new ground-up project, since there's no landmark status protecting the building. [Crain's]