CHICAGO-The Blackstone Group is said to be selling off a portfolio of about 15 properties in the Chicagoland area. The bulk of the properties were purchased earlier this year as part of a portfolio from Equity Office Properties Trust. Two additional properties from Blackstone’s buy-out of CarrAmerica are also said to be in the mix. Phone calls to Blackstone seeking comment were not returned.

The portfolio includes “assets [that] generally are pretty high quality,” says James Postweiler, Jones Lang LaSalle managing director for capital markets. While Postweiler is not personally involved with the sale, he is well versed with the portfolio. The properties are “great buildings in good locations with good access, good visibility and efficient floor plans.”

Suburban properties in the portfolio include “several very significant, highly attractive buildings” such as Oakbrook Terrace Tower, he says. Other suburban properties in the portfolio are Corporate 500 Centre and 500 Lake Cook Rd. in Deerfield; the three-building Commerce Plaza and 2001-2021 Spring Rd. in Oak Brook; Lincoln Center at 18W140 Butterfield Rd. in Oakbrook Terrace; 1011 Butterfield Rd. in Vernon Hills; the five-building Westbrook Corporate Center in Westchester; and Parkway North Center in Deerfield.

Some of the Chicago buildings in the portfolio include the Mercantile Exchange at 10 and 30 S. Wacker Dr., 161 N. Clark St., and 1 N. Franklin St., according to Postweiler. The Civic Opera building, 20 N. Wacker Dr., is also being sold as part of the portfolio, as previously reported by Holliday Fenoglio Fowler is the broker for the sale. Representatives from Holliday Fenoglio Fowler did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The portfolio is “a large size where people can achieve the economies of scale they are looking for if they are not in this market,” Postweiler says.

The suburban properties in the portfolio are expected to sell between $200 per sf and $225 per sf and the Chicago properties are expected to sell between $300 per sf and $330 per sf, Postweiler tells “People are expecting that the sales prices will be at the upper end of ranges that have already been established,” he says.

Bidders could “include any profile you want to include” such as investment funds, pension funds and private equity groups, Postweiler says. Executive vice president for Studley John Goodman, told earlier this month “From what I understand, there are about five or six major institutional owners of real estate who are looking at [the Civic Opera House] building as part of their Chicago portfolio.”

The sale of the portfolio has already had an effect on the Chicago commercial real estate market. Some property owners that were thinking of selling have held off for this portfolio to be sold, according to Postweiler. “Because of its size, most owners especially with smaller properties were trying to evaluate when it would come and if marketing their building would be impacted by this portfolio being on the market,” he says.

For those that were waiting for the Blackstone portfolio to be sold, “It has been so long of a period now, they have blown through some of their own deadlines that they set.” The sale of the portfolio has been talked about for months, says Postweiler who did not know why exactly the sale had been delayed. There has been speculation that Blackstone was trying to finish a few large lease transactions at the Mercantile Exchange and discussions with joint venture partners for a few of the buildings.

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