A Legacy Of Timing: What Sam Zell Has Bought And Sold In The Last 24 Months
Sam Zell has been making some noise recently, predicting a recession and announcing plans for over $9B in sales during the past year. The "Grave Dancer" is famous for his impeccable timing, most impressively his $39B sale of Equity Office Properties to Blackstone in February '07, just months before markets started tumbling towards the Great Recession. As he preps for another downturn, here's a breakdown of big moves Zell has made over the past 24 months.
Size: 2.1M SF
Buyer: AmTrust Realty
Sam Zell's Equity Commonwealth REIT sold off this office tower as part of his planned selloff that could reach $3B of the REIT's assets. The two mixed-use building were put on the market in April, and snatched up in June as Equity Commonwealth tries to dump buildings in remote locations. AmTrust plans to spend millions renovating the center's 77k of retail space—and remedying the 30% vacancy rate.
Size: 188 rooms
Buyer: Lawrence Geller
Zell sold Chicago's Waldorf Astoria for $600k/room, breaking the previous record of $505k/room set by Zell himself when he bought the property (then called the Elysian) in late 2011. Zell tapped JLL to sell the property last February to take advantage of sky-high prices.
Equity Residential Multifamily Portfolio
Size: 23,000 apartments
Buyer: Starwood Capital
This massive multifamily sale to Barry Sternlicht's (pictured) Starwood Capital dumped 20% of Zell's Equity Residential in one fell swoop. The 72 properties involved were mostly in the suburbs of Denver, Seattle, Washington, DC, South Florida and Southern California, as the REIT's CEO, David Neithercut, believes long-term returns “in the urban core will exceed those in other markets.”
Chase Tower/PNC Center
Size: 1.5M SF
News that these two Indianapolis office buildings are coming on the market broke in late January—continuing Equity Commonwealth's up to $3B selloff. The two buildings have yet to find a buyer, but the Chase Tower alone could hit up to $200M, while the PNC Center grabbed $105M in the past. Multimillion-dollar renovations to the PNC Center's Hyatt Regency hotel (controlled by separate owners) should mean an increase in the building's value.
Millenium Center Parking Garage
Size: 366 parking spots
Buyer: JLL Income Property
Zell clearly has a nose for a good turnaround. He sold this property in January 2015 after buying it for $7.2M in 2013. After Zell's $110k in upgrades, the garage should bring in $1.2M a year for its new owners.
Size: 279k SF
Seller: Beacon Capital Partners and C-III Realty
Zell's Equity Group Investments bought this three-building campus in a March 2014 JV with Parallel Capital Partners, planning to deliver a creative high-tech space on the site. The REIT snagged the site while it had a vacancy rate in the low 70s, cashing in on the low price point.
Heron Pointe Apartments
Size: 192 units
Buyer: Highland Capital Management
This recent selloff by Equity Residential continues Zell's goal to shift the REIT's properties from the suburbs to the urban core, following up on its massive sale to Starwood Capital. Zell bought the mid-rise multifamily complex in 1997 for just $9.17M. Not too shabby.
Grupo Acosta Verde
Size: 1.7M SF
Zell's Equity International bought a stake in this Mexican retailer in April 2015, joining forces with BlackRock and Altan Capital in a consortium investing in the company. The Monterrey-based firm has developed 35 properties and manages 26 Mexican shopping centers.