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Sar Peruri, 35, Principal, Oxford Capital Group

Chicago Hotel

Sar Peruri started dabbling in real estate via his family’s investments at a young age, but didn’t initially consider it as a career. He graduated from U of I with a finance major at the height of the tech bubble, so it was an easy choice to enter the analyst program with Morgan Stanley’s industry-leading, global high-tech investment banking group.

It was a tale of two worlds. In his first year, his relatively small group brought in $1.4B in revenue with some of the biggest tech IPOs and mergers; the bubble burst soon after. He had the unique experience of working on the IPO, attempted sell side, and ultimate liquidation of the same company. Tired of high tech’s obscure businesses, Sar craved something more tangible, like real estate’s bricks and mortar. After getting his MBA at Wharton with a concentration in real estate, Sar accepted an offer from Sam Zells’ Equity International.

What a way to see the world. In addition to earning tons of airline miles, Sar was exposed to real estate companies from homebuilders to regional mall companies to hotel firms in places like Brazil, Chile, Mexico, India, and China. But there were thousands of miles separating Equity's headquarters in Chicago from the properties, and Sar wanted to be closer to the action.‎


Oxford Capital Group recruited Sar in 2007, and he was immediately drawn to the firm’s hands-on approach and focus on operationally intensive real estate. Hotels marry Sar’s backgrounds in real estate and investing in businesses, he says. You’re evaluating the real estate, but you’re also running a multifaceted business, including implementing sales and revenue management strategies; hiring and managing effective teams; prudently controlling costs; and creating awareness through PR, marketing, and social media.

The recently opened Godfrey is one of Sar’s favorite projects (he's pictured, second from the left, at the ribbon-cutting with Mayor Emanuel). The  journey began when Oxford bought the property’s note in May 2011. From there, they had to get title, redesign a 50% complete project that had been idle for four years, then start construction. Given the unique staggered-truss architecture and central River North location, Oxford saw an opportunity to create a luxury lifestyle hotel, leveraging the firm’s track record in this strategy, including the Hotel Felix nearby.

Creating Godfrey’s 15k SF IO Urban Roofscape, now the largest rooftop F&B venue in the city, from previously programmed mechanical space, had many design and construction hurdles. Thankfully, the property has been a big success, well ahead of budget, Sar tells us. Oxford’s next big local project is 360 N Michigan, which will include 450 lifestyle hotel rooms, two floors of North Michigan Avenue retail space, 30k SF of banquet and meeting space, and a tri-level rooftop deck around the property’s historic cupola.

Outside of Chicago, the Godfrey in Boston will open next year, and Oxford is evaluating new opportunities on both coasts, Sar says. When Sar’s not hanging with his wife and three-year-old and two-month-old daughters, you’ll find him shooting hoops at East Bank Club.

Sar is part of Bisnow's Ascent community of up-and-coming commercial real estate leaders. For more info, click here.