| Sep 7, 2010 |
Design Center conglomerate MMPI could change hands
Boh staff
By Staff

Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI), home to thousands of to-the-trade interior design showrooms across the country, is seeking a buyer, according to a report by Crain's Chicago Business.

The properties' current owner, real estate investment trust Vornado, received an offer last month for $1.25 billion from Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation, which operates design centers nationwide including the Decoration and Design Building, Pacific Design Center, Design Center of the Americas and Decorative Center Houston. However, a deal couldn't be reached as of last month for reasons that were not made clear. Vornado executives are expected to continue to seek for a buyer for the Mart, says the report.

Vornado purchased the properties for $630 million in 1998 from the Kennedy family, who bought the original 3.5 million s.f. Chicago Merchandise Mart in 1945 for $12.5 million. The Mart has expanded from four buildings in two markets to eight buildings in six markets totaling nearly 8.9 million square feet.

Its buildings include The Merchandise Mart in Chicago, the L.A. Mart,  the Boston Design Center, Washington Design Center in D.C., the Architects and Designers Building, 7W New York, as well as Piers 92 and 94 in New York, serveral buildings in High Point, North Carolina, among others.

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