Streeterville building designed by Harry Weese sold to Altitude Capital Partners
Yet a property’s architectural pedigree does not guarantee its owner’s financial success, and that may be the case with 227 E. Walton. Weese not only designed the building, he also developed it, teaming up with real estate broker John Baird on the project. Their original plan to sell the units as co-op apartments didn’t work out, so they rented them out instead.
Another developer converted the building to condominiums in 1969. It remained that way until 2018, when Brad Management bought all the units and converted them back to apartments.
This is an investment strategy that gained traction several years ago. Amid soaring apartment values and a sluggish condo market, many investors have gone to the trouble of acquiring entire condo buildings and converting them into apartments.
They aim to take advantage of price differences between the two markets. Theoretically, an investor should be able to pay a premium for the condos while selling the building as a rental property at a much higher unit price. In 2021, for example, a Brookyn investor sold an Edgewater building that he had converted into apartments for $43 million, about 31% more than he had invested in the property.
Brad Management didn’t make it either. The company paid $10.3 million for the condos in mid-2018, according to Marcus & Millichap and ownership documents filed with Cook County. But he sold the property for just 2% more, or $10.5 million.
Jerry Wise, owner and president of Brad Management, did not return the calls. But Marcus & Millichap senior managing director Kyle Stengle said the numbers don’t tell the whole story, as Wise’s company also acquired a cell tower on the building which it sold at a profit as part of a deal. separate transaction.
“The gain looks worse than it actually was,” Stengle said. “The full story is not $10.3 million to $10.5 million.”
He said he could not provide details on the cell tower transaction because he did not advise Brad Management on the investment. A representative for Altitude Capital did not return a phone call.
The building’s history also includes a outline in 2019 to convert the building into a boutique hotel. But Brad Management abandoned the idea about a month later, unable to get support from Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, representing part of Streeterville.
Whatever its function, the building’s form will remain protected by its landmark status, approved by the city in 2012. Weese, who died in 1998, is perhaps best known for other buildings, including the 17th Church of Christ, scientist, at 55 E. Wacker Drive and the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center at 71 W. Van Buren St. Outside of Chicago, the architect’s most acclaimed work is the Washington Metro, which features stations with vaulted ceilings concrete inspired by Roman architecture.
The Streeterville Building offers a modern design while borrowing from the past, with a brick facade and the three-sided bay windows that were a defining feature of early Chicago School skyscrapers more than half a century earlier . The design represents the architect’s effort to break free from the square, glass-and-steel International Style championed by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and his followers, according to a 2012 report prepared for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.
“Weese fought for modern architecture that would be more humane and sensitive to historical architectural tradition and urban context,” the report states. “227 E. Walton Place exemplifies Weese’s interest as a modern architect in the primacy of human scale and texture over machine-made, in contextual design over a “one size fits all” approach, and in the importance of the continuity of the history of architecture rather than a clean break with the past, which distinguishes it from the American architectural current of the 1950s. »