On the West Side of Chicago sits Harpo Studios, home of The Oprah Winfrey Show until 2011. When Oprah first moved her morning talk show to the location in the meatpacking district in 1990, the neighborhood was transformed from gritty to trendy in a few short years.
However, it was recently announced that Oprah will be selling the 3.5 acre campus to a Chicago developer.
“We have entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay for the four-building Harpo Studios campus in Chicago's West Loop,” a spokeswoman for Harpo confirmed in a statement. “We expect the transaction to be closed in 30 days. The property will be leased back to Harpo for two years and the studio will continue to produce programming for OWN.”
In the past, Sterling Bay has also purchased other properties in the area, including a 10-story storage building two blocks from Harpo Studios, now commited to Google Inc.
“If [Sterling Bay] is going to work their strategy to its obvious conclusion, which is really controlling that part of the West Loop, it required owning those pieces,” said Harry Huzenis, principal at Chicago-based JRG Capital Partners, about the purchase of Harpo Studios.
Huzenis' company also bid on the property, but lost out to Sterling Bay.
Approximately 200 people currently work on the campus, which includes 170,000 square feet of office and production space. Two digital sports networks, 120 Sports and Campus Insiders, still currently have office and studio space on the property. It is not known if they will be able to continue leasing their space after the end of the two-year period.
Oprah still owns a 9,625-square-foot condominium in Water Tower Place, which is on the market to be sold for $7.75 million. When sold, she will no longer control any property in the windy city.
Currently, Oprah runs her cable network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, from Los Angeles. The network, which replaced The Discovery Health Channel, includes shows such as The Gayle King Show, In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman, and Enough Already! with Peter Walsh.
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