Blackstone buys Chicago's Willis Tower for US$1.3bn – will invest US$150m in leisure elements

by Katie Buckley | 23 Mar 2015

Blackstone, one of the world's biggest real estate investors, has announced that it will buy Chicago’s Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the US for US$1.3bn (€1.19bn, £800m).

Previously known as Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is an iconic structure – designed by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill – it dominates the Chicago skyline. Vendors, 223 South Wacker, said Blackstone will be an "excellent steward of this world famous building".

Blackstone has plans to improve the leisure offerings in the iconic skyscraper. It's been widely reported that the company will spend at least US$150m (€137m, £100m) "sprucing up" the existing Skydeck observatory on the 103rd floor which currently attracts 1.6 million visitors a year.

Jason Werner, managing director in Blackstone’s real estate group, said: "There's great potential to further improve both the building’s tourist experience and retail operations in what is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Chicago.”

Recently, CVC Capital Partners was reportedly preparing to bid for the Blackstone-owned Center Parcs, which is thought to be worth around US$3.8bn (£2.5bn, €3.5bn). Prior to that CVC and Blackstone launched the sale of their remaining shares in Merlin Entertainments, which is thought to be worth around US$1bn (£667.6m, €917.6bn).

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Blackstone, one of the world's biggest real estate investors, has announced that it will buy Chicago’s Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the US for US$1.3bn (€1.19bn, £800m). Previously known as Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is an iconic structure – designed by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill – it dominates the Chicago skyline. Vendors, 223 South Wacker, said Blackstone will be an "excellent steward of this world famous building". Blackstone
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Blackstone will upgrade the Willis Tower's leisure offering with US$150m investment / Flickr.com/Monika Thorpe
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