Neighbor agrees to pay about $25 million for Wacker Drive tower

After previous deals to sell a 23-story office tower on Wacker Drive fell through, its owners have struck a roughly $25-million deal with their next-door neighbor.

Chicago-based Ameritus Corporate Real Estate Service LLC is under contract to pay about $25 million, or about $103 per square foot, for the tower at 205 W. Wacker Drive, according to sources. The Class B office tower is 33 percent vacant, far above the overall downtown vacancy of 14.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to Los Angeles-based CBRE Inc.

Ameritus owns 211 W. Wacker Drive and has its offices in the 18-story tower just to the west of the property it’s buying, a 243,000-square-foot tower at Wacker and Wells Street.

An executive at Ameritus did not return calls. The firm is not expected to market the new space as for-sale office condos, which it has done at 211 W. Wacker.

Selling office space to tenants rather than leasing it has proved difficult in Chicago. Ameritus is still offering 13 condos—ranging from 779 square feet to 8,857—at 211 W. Wacker, according to real estate data provider CoStar Group Inc. The building is less than 82 percent occupied, according to CoStar.

The deal for 205 W. Wacker has not closed, raising the possibility that it, like previous tentative deals for the tower completed in 1929, could fall apart, sources said.

At $25 million, the investors who own the building would take a hit from the $30.5 million they paid for the tower in 2008.

Miami-based investment firm Cape Horn Group LLC, which was known for raising money in South America, represented the investors in the 2008 deal. Cape Horn was replaced by Chicago-based MB Real Estate Services LLC as adviser in 2010.

An executive at MB Real Estate, which took over management, leasing and sales of that tower and two others from Cape Horn, did not return a call Tuesday.

Owners of 205 W. Wacker in July negotiated a loan modification with Bloomington-based State Farm Bank F.S.B., which extended the maturity date on $20.5 million in debt by two years to August 2015 and cancelled a junior loan of $4.9 million, Cook County records show. HFF Inc. began marketing the tower around the time of the modification.

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