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CHICAGO-Ameritus, which acquired 211 W. Wacker Dr. earlier this year for nearly $15 million, is turning the 160,000-sf building into office condominiums. The real estate advisory, management and investment sales firm is selling units in the 18-story building overlooking the Chicago River at 2,200 sf to 25,000sf, the larger units taking three floors.

Before buying the 77-year-old building from Itasca-based Hamilton Partners, Ameritus principals envisioned its users as smaller service firms and nonprofit groups. “We thought about its identity among the surrounding larger structures along Wacker Drive and began to think of it as we would a small, upscale hotel,” explains Ameritus principal Bert Scherb. “Further differentiation from the huge amount of vacant West Loop space seemed necessary. Soon we saw the potential for an office condominium, where, as office space purchasers, occupants could take pride of ownership, control long-term occupancy costs by avoiding rent fluctuations, use ownership as a tax-planning tool, and feel comfortable about spending money to design and build out their office space to meet personal needs and preferences.”

Asking prices range from $190 per sf to $238 per sf, and units come as-is. Prices depends on views and the condition of the space. Although built in 1927, the building was most recently renovated in 1985.

First Bank financed the project with a $10-million mortgage. “First Bank recognized with Ameritus the opportunity to introduce office condominiums in a significant building as a new product type for the central business district,” says First Bank senior vice president Tom Maxwell.

Hamilton Partners held the building for two years, grossing $2 million on the sale. It had been asking gross lease rates starting at $22 per sf.

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