Zell eyes $200m sale of Chicago Tribune Tower

The chairman and co-founder of Equity International is considering selling the landmark headquarters of the Chicago Tribune for a reported $200m after buying the media company last year. The Los Angeles Times headquarters could also be sold by the real estate magnate.

Equity International chairman Sam Zell is considering selling the headquarters of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Zell is said to be exploring “strategic options” to “maximize the value” of the Tribune Company’s “underutilized” real estate, which includes the Tribune Tower in Chicago and Times Mirror Square, headquarters of the LA Times, in Los Angeles. Zell bought Tribune Company in December last year.

The company said in a statement it had issued requests for proposals to several “leading real estate firms” in the country. According to media reports, the sale is part of an effort to slash the Tribune’s estimated $13 billion (€8.2 billion) of debt. At the time of the take-private, Tribune said it would sell the Chicago Cubs and its 25 percent stake in local cable channel Comcast SportsNet Chicago to help finance the deal, as well as taking on $8.4 billion in new loans.

The Tribune property, and adjacent parking space, could go for around $200 million, according to the Chicago Tribune. Completed in 1925, the 40-story downtown Chicago landmark comprises 940,000 square feet of usable space and an adjacent one-acre parcel of land, currently used as a parking lot.

The Times Mirror Square complex, located in downtown Los Angeles, comprises five buildings, located on one city block, with 750,000 square feet of usable space as well as an adjacent parcel of vacant land, approximately two acres in size and a parking garage.

Despite the current downturn in the real estate market, Zell is expecting top dollar for the properties: “Most importantly, we are not rushing this process, and I can assure you we will not accept anything but full market value for these assets,” Zell said in the reports.

Tribune said it planned to maintain an “ongoing ownership position” in the properties.

Zell, who made headlines last year with the unloading of his Equity Office Properties portfolio to The Blackstone Group for $39 billion, took media giant Tribune Company private in a $8.2 billion deal. The company encompasses daily newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and The Baltimore Sun. Its broadcasting group operates 23 television stations.