Both had worked for Steve Fifield for about 15 years. Blum tellsGlobeSt.com that he just realized that now is a perfect time tobecome a company owner in commercial real estate. "I've got threekids, I was looking around, trying to see what I wanted to do, andthe fact is it's just an opportune time to start a new business."He formally left Fifield's employ in July, but stayed another fourmonths to help close up a few transactions.

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What really solidified his venture, Blum says, was the help of achildhood friend and neighbor, prominent Chicago real estatedeveloper Michael Alter, who now runs the Alter Group firm that hisfather Bill Alter started a half century ago. "I consider Michaelto be one of the most honorable, straightforward people I know,"Blum. "He and I talked for a number of months, and we finalized adeal in January. Mike is providing the overhead, and in return getsa good return on his investment." Both live on White Oak Lane, theorigin for the new company name.

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Saletta, who has extensive experience in big office leasesdowntown, says it took not finding tenants for some majorproperties over a two-year search during the economic downturn toconvince him to look for another option. "We had been verysuccessful at leasing up the USG Building, up to 98% and sold atthe top of the market in 2006, and the plan was to move forwardwith properties in the West Loop," Saletta tells GlobeSt.com.However, what firms were looking by then did not have that area ofdowntown in mind, he says. "In September, I sat down with Steve andshowed him we had exhausted our list of near-term expirations.Also, he was transitioning into more apartment acquisitions,"Saletta says. He decided to join Blum, and both are seeking out afew candidates to also bring on board.

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The two new entrepreneurs confirmed that they are working on theLisle office purchase, in partnership with Angelo Gordon & Co.and Fulcrum Asset Advisors. However, both tell GlobeSt.com thatthey are in a strict confidentiality agreement and can't talk aboutthe deal details.

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The two-building complex is now owned by a joint venture thatincludes Tishman Speyer Properties LP. The property has tenantssuch as the petroleum company BP, which occupies the top two39,000-square-foot floors of the newer building. Sources say thedeal will likely go for about $120 to $125 per square foot. Tishmanrepresentatives could not be reached for comment on this story.

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