Sam Zell to sell Chicago Waldorf Astoria to former Strategic head

A venture led by Laurence Geller that includes a Chinese investor is set to acquire the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago from Sam Zell for $113 million, or $600,000 per key for the 188-room hotel. The purchase price would reportedly be the highest per-room price ever paid for a Chicago hotel, since Zell originally acquired the property, née the Elysian.

The $600,000 per-room price eclipses the previous high of about $505,000 per room, or $95 million, that Zell paid for the Gold Coast hotel in late 2011, when it was called the Elysian. The sale will generate a good gain for Zell, who also received millions of dollars in "key money" from McLean, Va.-based Hilton Worldwide, which runs the Waldorf chain, for converting the hotel to a Waldorf.

Chinese investors especially have taken a shine to luxury hotels in gateway U.S. markets. Geller is teaming up on the Waldorf acquisition with Wanxiang America Real Estate Group, an Elgin-based unit of Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group, according to the people with knowledge of the deal.

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Geller was the founder and CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, before stepping down from the REIT in 2012.