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5 Real Estate Happenings Around NFL Draft Town


Downtown Chicago will be occupied by the invading force known as the National Football League this weekend as the 2016 NFL Draft takes place at the historic Auditorium Theatre.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city are rolling out the red carpet, and you can be assured downtown will be flooded in beer and hot wings. In addition to occupying the Auditorium Theatre the next four days, Grant Park has been transformed into NFL Draft Town. The Chicago Park District valued the three-day event at $3.2M, but Rahm is charging the NFL far less to host its party: $103k. We walked around Draft Town's periphery yesterday to get a lay of the land and check out some of the more recent real estate happenings surrounding the area. Here are five developments of note.

1. Essex Inn Redevelopment


The Essex Inn was a budget hotel whose best days were behind it before Oxford Capital Group bought the 245-room hotel in 2014. Oxford sees value in the hotel and its place in the South Loop real estate market and has an ambitious redevelopment plan that includes building a 48-story apartment tower where the Essex's parking garage and swimming pool are now. With a flurry of activity across multiple sectors, the South Loop is one of downtown's most attractive markets, and Oxford CEO John Rutledge said it's a prudent time to be investing in Michigan Avenue real estate.

2. A South Loop Hilton Hotel


Hoteliers Su-Mei Yen and Hui-Hsein Bert Yen have been busy in recent months. The Whitehall Hotel and Best Western Grant Park owners tore down a low-level parking garage at 1101 S Wabash and plan to build a two-concept hotel on the site (shown). One hotel will be a 196-key hotel under the Homewood Hilton banner; the other an 85-key extended-stay Wabash Suites.

3. Helmut Jahn's (Not So) Supertall


The legendary architect turned heads with renderings for a 1,001-foot-tall skyscraper at 1000 S Michigan but there were rumblings the height would need to be cut because the site falls within the boundaries of the Historic Michigan Boulevard DistrictNew renderings presented last month pegged the tower's new height at 832 feet, still tall enough to make necks ache but well below the minimum height required for supertall status by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Still, it's one of the most ambitious projects along Michigan Avenue, if the JV of JK Equities and Times Equities can put cranes in the air.

4. John Buck Buys 'Big Red'


The John Buck Co closed on the 35-story, 820k SF office building, the longtime home to CNA, late last month in a $108M acquisition. The deal is unique thanks to the bargain price and because Buck is building CNA Center at 151 N Franklin. So not only does Buck have one of the most anticipated new office building deliveries in the next two years in the pipeline, it will also be tasked with repositioning CNA's 750k SF office footprint once the firm moves to its new home.

5. The Blackstone Hotel


Sage Hospitality Group sold a $57.5M stake in the 332-key landmark hotel to Fundamental Advisors last month. Sage bought the hotel in 2008 and spent $128M, including $18M in city tax incentives and grants, on renovations. The flood of hotel activity along South Michigan Avenue, however, has analysts concerned about how supply and demand will be affected once McCormick Place's $390M Marriott Marquis Hotel is delivered late next year. One positive: the mayor's office says Chicago set a new tourism record in 2015. Over 51 million visitors spent time in the Second City.