Harpo considering sale of West Side site
BY DAVID ROEDER AND STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporters October 2, 2013 9:34AM
Members of the studio audience wait outside Harpo Studios before the final taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in Chicago, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. The finale will air on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: November 4, 2013 12:02PM
Harpo Inc. is considering selling some of its West Side studio campus.
Oprah Winfrey’s studio has hired real estate firm Eastdil Secured LLC to market the property, said Nicole Nichols, a Harpo spokeswoman.
Harpo is looking at options that could include selling, refinancing or leasing back a portion of its four-building campus, as well as other Harpo assets, a source said. The complex at 1058 W. Washington and a related parking lot cover a city block.
The talk show diva has maintained production and post-production operations for work related to her cable network, called OWN, at the facility. A source said that in any sale or leaseback arrangement, that operation is expected to remain.
Winfrey stopped using the studio for her broadcast talk show in 2011. The studio audience she drew for tapings helped produce a business renaissance on the Near West Side.
When Winfrey moved into the studio in 1989, the area needed a lift. But it has grown up around her property, and experts said the improving real estate market poses a good opportunity for Winfrey to sell.
Alan Schachtman, principal at the residential development firm Fifield Cos., said Winfrey must decide if she wants to sell to someone interested in the current facility, or accept a higher price from investors who want to build housing.
“To me, it has a lot of value as a teardown, but I’m not sure that’s the way she’s thinking about it,” Schachtman said.
A source said the property will be actively marketed starting in a couple of weeks.
When Winfrey arrived, the area was seen as a broken-down industrial district and part of Skid Row. But beginning in the 1990s, the condo boom, construction of the United Center and expansion of the corporate office market changed the neighborhood’s character. The Near West Side also has become a restaurant hot spot.