West Loop student housing complex fetches $51 million

The 482-bed building, a former electrical gear factory now on the National Register of Historic Places, gained value since its last sale in 2015, but its price fell far short of expectations.


79彩票注册网址The owners of a big West Loop student housing complex have sold the property for nearly $51 million, more than they paid for it in 2015 but a lot less than they expected.

79彩票注册网址A joint venture between Atlanta-based JMG Realty and Empire Square Group of New York sold Automatic Lofts, a 482-bed property at 410 S. Morgan St., to OC Ventures, a Chicago-based real estate investor with funding from China. The 108-year-old former electrical gear factory, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, sits across the Eisenhower Expressway from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Private student housing has been a popular property sector79彩票注册网址 with big investors over the past several years. Developers have churned out amenity-rich buildings in college towns and cities like Chicago with large student populations, expanding an asset class attractive to investors that want to diversify beyond traditional cyclical sectors like office, retail and industrial.

The strong market lifted Automatic Lofts, which an OC venture bought in mid-November for $50.8 million, or about $105,000 per bed, according to Cook County property records. That’s 22 percent more than the $41.5 million that the JMG-Empire joint venture bought the building for in 2015. But it’s far short of the $63 million to $65 million79彩票注册网址 the property’s broker, Newmark Knight Frank, expected it to fetch when it went on the market last year.

The price also is on the low end when compared to recent student housing sales in the city. Another vintage building converted into student housing, Tailor Lofts, a 441-bed property at 315 S. Peoria St., about two blocks away, sold in February for $60 million, or $136,000 a bed. Last year, Arc at Old Colony in the Loop, sold for about $200,000 per bed, and the Buckingham near Grant Park, fetched about $167,000 a bed.

Representatives of JMG, Newmark Knight Frank and OC Ventures did not respond to requests for comment.

OC plans to fix up the property by expanding its fitness center, renovating its lobby and study areas and updating its furniture, the company said in a statement. The property caters to students at UIC, Columbia College, DePaul University, the School of the Art Institute and Kendall College.

“West Loop is one of the hottest areas in Chicago,” Steve Zhang, chief investment officer at OC, said in the statement. “Young professionals and college students are flocking here and we are proud to own a premier property in such an up-and-coming neighborhood.”

Automatic Lofts is OC’s sixth student housing acquisition in the United States and first in the Midwest, according to the statement. The firm has acquired more than 3,000 beds in the last two years.

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