Deal of the day: $500 million-plus sale of Groupon HQ

Groupon’s sprawling headquarters along the Chicago River is close to getting a new owner, in a $500 million-plus deal that would be one of the biggest office sales in Chicago this year.

Chicago developer Sterling Bay is working to complete the purchase of the building at 600 W. Chicago Ave., according to sources. An exact price could not be determined but it is believed to be more than $510 million.

The sale involves another well-known Chicago real estate name: Sam Zell. He runs Equity Commonwealth, the real estate investment trust that has owned the more than 1.6 million-square-foot building since 2011.

The REIT, under different leadership and a different name at the time, bought the former Montgomery Ward catalog building for $390 million in 2011.

If the deal is finalized as expected, it would be one of the largest deals yet involving Sterling Bay, which has emerged in recent years from modest beginnings to become one of the most active owners and developers of real estate in Chicago.

Sterling Bay also is wrapping up an approximately $680 million purchase of the two-tower Prudential Plaza office complex just north of Millennium Park, a deal that is the firm’s largest to date.

Meanwhile, Sterling Bay continues to draw up plans for its more than 70-acre Lincoln Yards mixed-use development on North Side land that includes the former A. Finkl & Sons steel plant site near Lincoln Park.

That project, one of 10 Chicago-area locations proposed for Amazon’s planned second headquarters, could cost up to $10 billion to develop. Sterling Bay has unveiled plans to build a 20,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof on the site for a United Soccer League team and other sporting events, as well as concerts and other entertainment. Sterling Bay Managing Principal Andy Gloor declined to comment. An Equity Commonwealth spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sterling Bay’s deal to buy 600 W. Chicago was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Groupon’s building is selling after zoning changes, approved earlier this year by the City Council, are expected to unleash a wave of real estate developments in a longtime industrial corridor along the river running north and south of 600 W. Chicago.

Two of the largest developments proposed in the corridor, Lincoln Yards and broadcast company Tribune Media’s 37 acres just across the river from 600 W. Chicago, are among sites offered to Amazon.

Earlier this year, Equity Commonwealth hired a team of Eastdil Secured brokers led by Chicago-based Managing Director Stephen Livaditis to seek a sale of 600 W. Chicago. The building is about 95 percent leased to tenants including Groupon, Echo Global Logistics and venture fund Lightbank.

Amid ongoing developments in the Fulton Market district and the North Side, Sterling Bay recently has begun to diversify its business by buying well-known office buildings, offering new services such as leasing and management for other landlords, and pushing into new markets such as Miami and Portland, Ore.

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