$255 million to procure familiar façade in Chicago’s historic skyline
Chicago, IL – May 23, 2018 The Wrigley Building is set to sell at a whopping $255 million, up from its $33 million sale in 2011, sources say. Chicago billionaire Joe Mansueto has a deal to buy the Michigan Avenue landmark from a group of investors including Tempus founder/CEO and philanthropist Eric Lefkofsky.
A familiar icon of Chicago’s magnificent mile, the Wrigley Building was the first major office building north of the Chicago River when ground broke for the site in 1920. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the mutli-tower facility was built to house the headquarters for the chewing gum giant and now serves as a downtown icon and mixed-use facility. The riverfront skyscraper was the city’s first air-conditioned office building, and it was named a Chicago landmark in 2012. Adorned in detailed white terra cotta and fully illuminated at night, the Wrigley Building is recognizable to any Chicagoan, its 20-foot tall clocks serving as a shining beacon for the city.
Purchased by Lefkofsky and associates in 2011, the new owners sought to retain the history in the Wrigley name and character while positioning the building to serve a new mix of exciting tenants. The building’s $33 million price tag in 2011 reflected a high vacancy rate and needs for major renovations. The combined space of nearly 473,000 square feet has undergone multimillion-dollar makeovers under their ownership, transforming the environment with modern retail components. After the Wrigley company’s departure, the largest office tenant was architecture firm Perkins + Will, which now leases more than 60,000 square feet. The redevelopment restored Wrigley to its original grandeur and renovated the building’s expansive plaza into a three-level, 52,500 square foot dining and retail shopping destination. Building retailers include Walgreens, a Peet’s Coffee flagship and a Ghirardelli ice cream and chocolate shop. The official Wrigley Building website confirms that there are still a few retail spaces available to house new tenants.
For Eric Lefkofsky, the purchase and subsequent sale of the Wrigley Building offers a peek into his varied interests. Eric and his business partner, Brad Keywell, have founded six companies in the last two decades. The two first found success with Innerworkings (INWK). The next decade landed the entrepreneurs in tech companies spanning visions, from freight logistics to advertising technology for buyers to an online collective action website called ThePoint.com, the latter of which turned into the enormously successful Groupon.com in 2008.
Groupon’s investments and fundraising in its early years put the company at a valuation of $1.35 billion by the Spring of 2010, landing the site the title of “the fastest growing company in history” by Forbes in that same year. The overwhelming success of Groupon along with the gains from other ventures gave Lefkofsky opportunities to also focus on philanthropic pursuits.
In 2006, Eric Lefkofsky and his wife Liz established a private charitable foundation, the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, to “advance high-impact initiatives that enhance the quality of human life in the communities served.” The Lefkofsky Family mission focuses on funding for ensuring early-middle education, enhancing human rights causes for underserved groups, propelling innovative medical research and expanding their community’s cultural foundations – a combination of initiatives the founders call “singularly focused on the well-being of others.”
In 2015, the couple pledged $1.2 million to the University of Michigan Health System to further the development of cancer and heart disease research. Aiming to provide unique opportunities to students whose unconventional research is working in real-time to accelerate medical developments, the program shows great promise. As Eric Lefkofsky’s career demonstrates: pursuing bold ideas allows for the potential of big breakthroughs – the driving idea behind the program. “These projects are all examples of what makes Michigan unique — that notion of team science and taking advantage of interesting questions at the interfaces of different areas of science,” says Kim Eagle, M.D., director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center and the facilitator of the Lefkofsky Scholars’ scientific oversight committee. “The Lefkofskys are part of a new breed of philanthropists. They’re thinking about how we can step out of the paradigm of the last 50 years and fund high-impact, high-risk early science that might move the research forward faster.”
Furthering his passion projects in medical research development, Eric Lefkofsky founded Tempus in 2015. Focused on collecting and analyzing large volumes of molecular and clinical data, Tempus seeks to lead into a new era of precision medicine by building the world’s largest library of data along with the operating systems to make the data useful to physicians and the patients they treat. Collaborations with hospitals across the country and solid financial investments help establish Tempus as a new force in precision medicine efforts. “We built a system to help physicians in clinic analyze incredible amounts of data and make real-time decisions to more effectively treat patients,” says Lefkofsky, citing his own personal experience of watching a loved one battle cancer as the force behind Tempus’ mission. In the years to come, Lefkovsky believes that the driving idea behind Tempus could oversee a paradigm shift in medical research.
With the Wrigley Building deal comes a giant price tag almost eight times the $33 million spent in 2011 by the group led by BDT, Zeller Realty Group and Lefkofsky. Lefkofsky has described his successes as being “born out of trying to solve real problems.” When imagining new ventures, the 48-year old entrepreneur dreams of “an entire world where the problem has been solved by a product, service or company that I’ve conjured up… And at some point, the dream is so intoxicating that I’m compelled to do everything in my power to make the dream a reality.” Lefkofsky’s success started in tech, but his legacy could be built around his latest initiatives – combining tech with compassionate innovations, as he describes Tempus as “possibly the biggest company I’ve ever built, and the most meaningful in every metric.”
For more information, visit lefkofsky.com
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