University buys Harper Court for just under $100 million

The University has bought the office tower and retail space in Harper Court from Harper Court Partners.

By Evangeline Reid

Days after Harper Court’s star-studded ribbon cutting, the University has bought up the newly opened 12-story office tower and retail complex.

The $98 million deal was closed on November 14. The contract with Harper Court Partners, the property’s developer, included the option for the University to acquire the property after the building’s opening.

In the deal, the University purchased the 150,000-square-foot office tower, more than 75,000 square feet of retail, and two parking garages, as well as rights to land for Phase II.

In a press release, Associate Vice President for Commercial Real Estate Jim Hennessy said the school does not intend to own the property permanently, but the temporary purchase allows the University to facilitate the process of finding a permanent owner.

Director of Communications for Civic Engagement Calmetta Coleman said in an e-mail, “By taking ownership now, the University can make decisions about the conditions of a sale, help guide the future of the complex, and guarantee that it continues to support a mix of amenities that complement existing businesses in the 53rd Street corridor and reflect the kinds of retail options local residents want.”

Coleman explained that by continuing its involvement in the property, the University is furthering its stated goal “to ensure that Harper Court includes a mix of national, Chicago-based, and locally-owned businesses, and that those businesses include South Side residents in their hiring plans.”

The University expects to put the property on the market in 2014, she said.

Harper Court opened on November 8 with a ribbon cutting ceremony, where Grammy-winning artist Estelle performed and Mayor Rahm Emanuel was in attendance. The new economic hub is intended to spur other developments and job opportunities along 53rd Street.