35 E Wacker Drive, Chicago

Joint Venture Acquires 40-Story Historic Jewelers Building in Chicago

by Jeff Shaw

CHICAGO — A joint venture between The Prime Group Inc. and CRG, the development and investment management arm of Clayco, has acquired the 40-story historic Jewelers Building in Chicago. Located at 35 E. Wacker Drive, the Jewelers Building comprises 556,200 square feet of rentable office space. The building is currently 70 percent occupied.

Designed by Giaver & Dinkelber, the Jewelers Building was originally built in 1926. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest building west of New York City. The building is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. Chicago-based architecture firm Goettsch Partners recently renovated the lobby, main entry and storefronts at the property.

The price was not disclosed. According to CoStar, the price was expected to be more than $70 per square foot, which would equate to approximately $39 million. However, those numbers were based on Prime’s original offer in November before CRG was brought in as a partner. The previous owner had defaulted on over $50 million in debt on the building, according to multiple sources, leading to the sale.

Although Prime Group’s initial plans for the property in November called for a potential hotel conversion, that concept has apparently been sidelined. As an existing tenant and now part owner, CRG will expand its footprint in the office tower and become the anchor tenant, signifying it will remain an office building for the immediate future.

“We view the Jewelers Building as one of Chicago’s most important historic buildings, and probably in the United States,” says Michael Reschke, chairman and CEO of The Prime Group Inc. “We welcome the opportunity to continue to be a good steward of this historic asset and to preserve and maintain the building for decades to come.”

The Prime Group Inc. and CRG will manage the property. According to the new owners, the partnership hopes to leverage The Prime Group’s history in Chicago and Clayco’s innovative construction and real estate solutions to foster a renaissance of the historic building.

Clayco and its affiliates have leased offices at the Jewelers Building since 2010, when Clayco relocated its headquarters to downtown Chicago from St. Louis. The Prime Group Inc. was founded in 1982 and is also headquartered in Chicago.

— Channing Hamilton

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