Oprah Winfrey plans to officially leave Chicago behind in a game-changing move.
Winfrey will sell Harpo Studios to the highest bidder, Sterling Bay Cos, a Chicago-based real estate investment and development company. The deal is expected to total about $32 million. Ownership rights to Harpo lead to a bidding war that caught the attention of companies all over the globe.
Harpo Studios began in Chicago in 1990, with Winfrey leaving it in 2011 when her long-running The Oprah Winfrey Show ended. With the end of the series, she relocated to Los Angeles to run the Oprah Winfrey network (OWN). Her decision to sell the company represents her final transition from Chicago to LA. Harpo Studios has four buildings, over 200 employees, and sits on a 3.5-acre campus.
A spokeswoman for Harpo made the announcement by saying:
“We have entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay for the four-building Harpo Studios campus in Chicago's West Loop. 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.”
Originally Winfrey hoped to lease the building for three years instead of two.
Though Winfrey no longer has business ties to Chicago, she still owns a condominium in Water Tower Place, which she is currently trying to sell for $7.75 million.
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, “the eventual redevelopment could include some combination of office, restaurant, retail, apartment and hotel elements…Portions of the property could maintain their current use as TV studios and editing rooms.”
Winfrey first came to Chicago in 1984 to WLS-TV’s morning talk show, which was entitled A.M Chicago. The show quickly became the number one in its market. It was renamed to The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1985. Winfrey is credited with transforming the neighborhood surrounding Harpo Studios into a thriving location, with popular restaurants and a family friendly environment.
Image via Oprah Winfrey, Twitter