Placing a smart bet, or putting lipstick on a South Loop pig?

The 27-story apartment tower at 2 E 8th St, now a student dorm, was built in 1984. My last tour of the building was in the early 90s, but I clearly recall an aura of failure pervading it. What I don’t recall clearly is how much of that aura was created by the manager who was showing me around the building and bluntly and wearily pointing out its competitive disadvantages and shortcomings.

According to Crain’s Chicago Real Estate Daily, the building sold recently for $58.5 million to a group that plans to rebrand it as 765 S State St, launch a summer rental program, and add the au courant cosmetic cluster: “new floors, countertops and stainless-steel appliances.”

Crain’s quotes a competitor’s oblique way of saying the new ownership’s plan amounts to putting lipstick on a pig:

“They underestimate the marketing and turnover costs of what is essentially an extended-stay hotel,” said Robert Bronstein, president of the Scion Group LLC, a Chicago-based student housing operator and investor.

Scion looked at the tower when it came on the market but advised prospective buyers to avoid the property because of its condition, Mr. Bronstein said. The ceiling heights are low and the building doesn’t have enough elevators, he said.

“It has issues that you can’t easily deal with,” Mr. Bronstein said. “You can’t pretty it up with finishes.”

The declining enrollment at Chicago colleges was another strike, he said.


  • CaptainVideo 5 years

    “The declining enrollment at Chicago colleges was another strike, he said”

    If enrollment is declining, why are the universities in the south loop all building expansions and developers are proposing new student housing?

    • Pedro 5 years

      I was wondering the same thing.

      • SheridanB 5 years

        My suspicion is, if they are in fact getting lowered enrollments, is that they are building to compete and attract enrollment and because they have the money.