Maharishi finds buyer for transcendent mess
Mar. 2, 2005 Column
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday March 2, 2005
We’ve heard this before — there’s a plan to breathe new life into the landmark Blackstone Hotel at 636 S. Michigan. Only this time there could be real money and skill behind the deal.
The Blackstone, which has been closed since 1999, is under contract to be sold to Denver-based Sage Hospitality Resources LLP. A source said the contract is for around $24 million and will close in a few weeks and perhaps sooner.
The seller is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the transcendental meditation guru whose strange ideas about Chicago real estate included trying to turn the building into a condo property posher than the Gold Coast. Without the Gold Coast location, he couldn’t sell any units.
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But it’s really a three-way deal. Sources said Sage Hospitality is in talks with the city over a substantial subsidy for the project. The decrepit hotel needs a gut rehab and cost estimates for that have ranged as high as $100 million.
This time, the Blackstone would remain as a hotel. Art Burrows, the property’s broker and senior vice president at NAI Hiffman, said any plan to make it residential would require expensive configuration for internal parking. He declined to discuss anything about the deal.
Sage Hospitality President Walter Isenberg couldn’t be reached Tuesday and city officials were unavailable to discuss the subsidy talks. Isenberg’s firm runs the Essex Inn at 800 S. Michigan, one of downtown’s cheapest hotels. Its other hotels around the country include urban rehabs in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Denver.
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