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Renovation Watch

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Crain's broke the news today of the off-market sale of the Civic Opera Building to NY-based Berkley Properties. Berkley paid $126M to another NY-based venture, Tishman Speyer Properties, for the 44-story historic structure less one floor of offices and the actual performance space, owned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago. They plan to throw down tens of millions in renovations to elevate the office spaces to a level akin to the building's neighbors (current rents are half what some neighboring towers command). That implies fewer and larger tenants so it won't be "like operating a hotel", as Steve Fifield remembers it from his days of ownership in the mid-90s. A number of amenity upgrades are envisioned, like the addition of roof decks, cafes, and a fitness center. Tishman eats a big loss against its $185M purchase in '07 as part of a six-building deal. [Crain's]