CHICAGO-The Pritzker family, best known as the owners of the Hyatt Hotels Corp. and for the architectural prize that bears their name, are on the verge of making a highly visible mark on Chicago–a major new office building on Wacker Dr., which will serve as the headquarters for the Hyatt chain. Jack Higgins, chairman and CEO of Higgins Development Corp., is slated to develop the building for the Pritzkers.

“I can’t comment on the final negotiations [to acquire the site],” Higgins told, “except to say that we are in the final negotiations.” Reportedly, the Pritzkers have signed a letter of intent to purchase a lot at the corner of Wacker Dr. and Monroe St. in Chicago’s CBD (a block north of the Sears Tower), from Prime Group Realty Trust.

Prime has sold a number of its assets this year to pay down debt. The value of the 1.4-acre lot is roughly $60 million, according to industry sources. At the moment, it is used for surface parking.

Currently, the Hyatt Hotels Corp. occupies about 230,000 sf at 200 W. Madison St., and the company has been looking at other options for a new headquarters for about a year. The new Wacker Dr. building would also house the Pritzker Organization, adding another 100,000 sf or so to the total. If the building ultimately measures 1.3 million sf, as industry another anchor tenant would probably be necessary before the project gets out of the ground.

In June 1999, the Pritzkers bought a controlling interest in the major Chicago-based development firm of Walsh Higgins, which then became Higgins Development Partners. For their part, the Pritzkers had not been involved in office or industrial development as much as other kinds of real estate, while Jack Higgins and his partners have developed office, industrial and institutional real estate throughout the country.

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