Chicago’s 110-Story Willis Tower Said to Be Up for Sale

Chicago’s Willis Tower, once the world’s tallest building and one of the city’s top tourist attractions, is up for sale.

The owners, which include New York-based investors Joseph Chetrit and Joseph Moinian, have hired brokerage Eastdil Secured to market the 110-story skyscraper, said a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the listing isn’t public. It may fetch around $1.5 billion, which would set a record for an office building in the third-biggest U.S. city.

The 1,450-foot (442-meter) building, formerly known as the Sears Tower, is the second-tallest in the U.S., and was the world’s highest from its completion in the early 1970s until 1998, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. It was last sold in 2004 to a group including Chetrit, Moinian and American Landmark Properties Ltd. for $841 million, a Chicago record until Irvine Co.’s $850 million purchase of 300 N. LaSalle St. last year.

“It’s iconic in the size and how it dominates the skyline,” James Kutill, a vice president of Chicago-based Appraisal Research Counselors, said in a telephone interview. “As an office building, however, it’s 1970s construction.”

Prices for U.S. office buildings in major markets have surpassed their prior peak, bolstered by investors seeking the higher yields in commercial property than they can find in many fixed-income securities. Office rents are climbing as employers add jobs, helping boost the value of real estate.

Brian Rehme, a spokesman for Willis Tower’s ownership at Fleishman-Hillard, declined to comment. The listing was reported Tuesday by Real Estate Alert, a trade newsletter covering the commercial-property market.

Sears, United

The 3.8 million-square-foot (353,000-square-meter) tower was originally built as a headquarters for the company now known as Sears Holdings Corp. The property’s name was changed in 2009 to Willis Tower after insurance broker Willis Group Holdings Ltd. agreed to lease space in the building. It’s now also the headquarters for airline United Continental Holdings Inc.

Willis Tower lost its title as tallest U.S. skyscraper in 2013, when the Council on Tall Buildings determined that the spire of 1 World Trade Center in New York counted as part of the architecture and was included in that tower’s 1,776-foot height.

Douglas Harmon of Eastdil is representing the investors in the Willis Tower sale.