Last month the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood sold to Laurence Geller, former President & CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, for a record-breaking $113 million. Purchased from financier and hotelier Sam Zell, the acquisition averaged out to $600,000 per room, the largest sum ever paid for a hotel in Chicago. Zell held the previous record with his original purchase of the hotel for $95 million.
The purchase was a joint venture between Geller and Chinese partners, Wanxiang America Real Estate Group. The two have been investing in the area as of late with this recent Waldorf Astoria acquisition, and a separate agreement they made earlier this year with Conrad Hotels & Resorts to open a new Conrad Chicago by spring of 2016. This is reflective of the growing hotel market in the Windy City where 17 hotels sold in the area in 2014 for a total of $606.7 million. In 2013 18 hotels sold, but only brought in $572 million.
Zell originally purchased the 60-story hotel in 2011 when it was still the Elysian Hotel Chicago and converted it into a Waldorf Astoria by 2012, but it’s unknown what Geller’s plans are for the property. Insiders suggest that due to his previous work in the luxury sector and the recent interest in luxury hotels from Chinese investors, the property will remain a Waldorf Astoria.