Well a bit of an exaggeration since he does already have some interests in this city, but he will have a foothold in Hyde Park if this plan comes to fruition:
An investment fund led by former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson has agreed to invest in Harper Court, a $100-million real estate development in Hyde Park anchored by a Hyatt Place hotel.
Loa Angeles-based Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds has made an equity investment in the project's initial phase, while New York-based Citibank has provided a $65-million construction loan, says David Cocagne, president and CEO of Vermilion Development, the project's developer.
Site preparation is under way, and Vermilion plans an official groundbreaking in November, he says. Mr. Cocagne expects to complete the first phase of the development at Lake Park Avenue and 53rd Street in spring 2013.
The University of Chicago has agreed to lease all of Harper Court's office space, about 150,000 square feet, while health club LA Fitness has leased 31,000 square feet of the project's 75,000 square feet of retail space, Mr. Cocagne says. A joint venture including Beachwood, Ohio-based Smart Hotels LLC has bought the rights to build the 130-room hotel.
Obtaining a construction loan remains a challenge in the current market, where risk-averse lenders remain wary of big, complicated mixed-use developments like Harper Court.
“It's a difficult environment,” Mr. Cocagne says. “What was key to our success was having the level of leasing in place and also the quality of the tenants.”