Private equity real estate investment firm Gaw Capital Partners (GCP) is said to have acquired the PUBLIC Chicago Hotel from the Ian Schrager Company for $60 million. The hotel, which was renovated five years ago, used to house the legendary Ambassador East hotel and its historic Pump Room restaurant, in Chicago’s Gold Coast area.
Schrager acquired the Ambassador Hotel in partnership with Morgan Stanley in 2010. A reinvented and reimagined hotel and Pump Room with a new food concept by James Beard award winning chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, reopened in September 2011. The hotel’s 285 spacious and oversized guest rooms and suites are individually furnished with integrity, taste and superb functionality.
New York-based Eastdil Secured advised Schrager in the sale of the hotel, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. GCP is said to have bought the hotel in a joint venture with Chicago developer Shapack Partners.
GCP has over $12 billion in assets under management and currently manages four real estate funds targeting the Greater China and Asia Pacific region. The firm also manages opportunistic funds in Vietnam and the US along with a hospitality fund targeting the Asia Pacific region. The firm’s Gaw Capital Partners USA affiliate has over $2.7 billion in assets under management.
GCP is led by its chairman and managing principal, Goodwin Gaw, a Wharton and Stanford graduate who launched an impressive Asian-American real estate and hospitality career in 1995 by acquiring and renovating the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the oldest continually operating hotel in Los Angeles, where the first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929. He subsequently founded Downtown Properties specializing in distressed real estate.
GCP, formerly known as Gateway Capital, was co-founded in 2005 by Goodwin Gaw and his younger brother Kenneth Gaw, the company’s president and managing principal, who previously worked at Goldman Sachs, until in 1994 he joined Hong Kong-based Pioneer Global Group (HKG: 224), a conglomerate now focused on real estate controlled by their parents, the late Anthony T.C. Gaw, and Rossana Wang Gaw, currently Pioneer’s executive chairman. Their sister Christina Gaw joined GCP as managing principal and head of capital markets in 2008, after 16 years of investment banking experience at Goldman Sachs and UBS. The Gaw family, with an estimated fortune of $1.3 billion, is ranked by Forbes as the 48th wealthiest in Hong Kong.
Ian Schrager, who originally gained fame as co-owner and co-founder of New York’s Studio 54, is often associated with creating the luxury boutique hotel industry category, and is known as “the hippest hotel guy.” After leaving Morgans Hotel Group in 2005, the company he founded and created, Schrager developed his namesake, Ian Schrager Company, which owns, develops, manages and brands hotels, residential and mixed use projects.
Since then, he has transformed the fabled Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, created two groundbreaking residential properties, 40 Bond and 50 Gramercy Park North, successfully launched his new brand, PUBLIC Hotels, and is currently working on multiple hotels in New York City and two luxury residential projects; 215 Chrystie and 160 Leroy also in New York City.
In addition, Schrager in partnership with Marriott International created EDITION Hotels, a luxury lifestyle brand with properties in London, Miami and New York City and 21 more in development around the world.
Rich with a cultural heritage that spans decades, the PUBLIC Chicago hotel and the Pump Room was a place to see and be seen and played host to a multitude of celebrities and people from all over the world and all walks of life.
The Pump Room is referenced in the Fred Fisher song Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town): “We’ll meet at the Pump Room-Ambassador East/To say the least.” The song My Kind of Town (Chicago is), popularized by Frank Sinatra, has the line “Chicago is the jumpin’ Pump Room”.
Famous guests included Frank Sinatra, John Barrymore, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, David Bowie, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Elizabeth Taylor, Lena Horne, Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Robert Redford, Bill Murray, Josephine Baker, Phil Collins, Eddie Fisher, Michael J. Fox, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner, Mel Brooks, Olivia Newton-John, Peggy Lee, Mick Jagger, and many others.
Photo (above): Ian Schrager.