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CHICAGO-The Westin River North Hotel, located on the Chicago River several blocks west of Michigan Ave., has been sold to Tishman Realty Co. by its owner for two years, Lend Lease Real Estate Investment’s Value Enhancement Fund (VEF) III, an opportunistic investment vehicle. The sale price was reportedly $120 million or nearly $30 million more than Lend Lease paid for the property in 1998.

The 424-room, 20-story upmarket hotel began its life as the Nikko Hotel in 1987, but became a Westin in the 1990s. For the time being, the property will probably remain a Westin, managed by the national hotel REIT Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Lend Lease was able to make a killing in part because investor interest in Chicago hospitality properties is very strong, with a current shortage of rooms plaguing visitors.

“The international competition for this asset was intense, which resulted in one of the highest price-per-key transactions of an existing hotel in the Chicago marketplace,” says Thomas Fisher, SVP of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, who negotiated on behalf of Lend Lease.Lately, occupancy at the hotel has averaged about 80%, a fact that didn’t discourage potential investors either.

Lend Lease’s Value Enhancement Fund III is the third in a series of closed-end real estate investment funds. Since the inception of VEF I in 1993, the series of funds invested in almost $2 billion in commercial real estate.

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