Just how much is the Willis Tower worth?

News is that the Willis Tower in Chicago is up for sale and one insider suggests it could go for $1.5 billion:

The owners of the Willis Tower have hired Eastdil Secured to seek a sale, according to an offering book already given to potential buyers. The property’s owners are being advised in the deal by Chicago-based Stephen Livaditis and New York-based Douglas Harmon, senior managing directors at Eastdil, according to the materials…

Chicago is coming off the strongest year of office building sales downtown in seven years. Boosted by low interest rates, a strong real estate appetite for U.S. real estate by domestic and international investors and comparatively higher pricing in coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco, Chicago in 2014 experienced some of its biggest office deals…

Industry newsletter Real Estate Alert, which first reported Willis Tower was being shopped, estimated it could sell for about $1.5 billion. That would be almost $400 for each of the tower’s nearly 3.8 million square feet of office space.

But because of its huge size and unusually broad sources of revenue, experts say Willis Tower’s value is more difficult to pinpoint than a traditional office property.

Sounds like a thriving market right now. Building occupancy is up in recent years and several other large office buildings have sold for high prices in the last year or so.

It would be fascinating to see what happens if the name changes again. How would Chicagoans react? The Willis Tower switchover never completely happened – hard to believe that was over 10 years ago now – so would a new name work? We are not there yet but could be headed toward a world where major buildings consistently change names as they change owners or even develop sponsorship deals to have particular names?

Height battle between Willis Tower and One World Trade Center reveals each city’s insecurities

One World Trade Center may have been officially declared the tallest building in the United States but one writer argues the debate is really about Chicago’s and New York City’s insecurities:

What this whole thing really measures isn’t the size of a pair of buildings—it’s the size of each city’s insecurity. New York has its hollow confidence, and Chicago has its inferiority complex. Each is painful, but both can be soothed by the balm of the biggest building. Helpful reminder: The reason that Western Hemisphere asterisk has to be applied to the Willis / World Trade debate is because, among the tallest buildings worldwide, these two barely make the top 10.

The tallest building thing is just a stand-in for the real question: Which is the better city? You’ll need a different kind of Council on Urban Habitat to really get to the bottom of that.

Which is the better city? New York City is consistently ranked as the #1 global city. New York has more glamor, more of the global financial industry, more people than other cities in the United States, and one of the most impressive concentrations of people, buildings, and wealth in Manhattan. Chicago has its place as the quintessential American city (from its explosive growth in the late 1800s, its place as a transportation hub, the birthplace of numerous financial industry and commodity trade inventions, and its contrasts of wealth and poverty) and architecture.

But, all places have imperfections. See an earlier post about Chicago’s insecurities. And, it also depends on which other cities are in the comparisons: New York City is commonly compared to the world’s greatest cities including London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Chicago, on the other hand, contends with two larger U.S. cities (including Los Angeles, a city that doesn’t seem to get caught up in these debates) and perhaps the next tier of global cities.

How exactly a building settles these concerns is beyond me. As the article notes, there are other buildings around the world – in some that rank lower on the scale of global cities, places like Dubai, Mecca, and Shenzhen – that are as tall or taller.

21st century problem: “Who inherits your iTunes library?”

If you have made a will, don’t forget to include your digital music and ebooks:

Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.

And one’s heirs stand to lose huge sums of money. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be OK with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.”

Part of the problem is that with digital content, one doesn’t have the same rights as with print books and CDs. Customers own a license to use the digital files—but they don’t actually own them…

Most digital content exists in a legal black hole. “The law is light years away from catching up with the types of assets we have in the 21st Century,” says Wheatley-Liss. In recent years, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, Oklahoma and Idaho passed laws to allow executors and relatives access to email and social networking accounts of those who’ve died, but the regulations don’t cover digital files purchased.

Another reason to buy the physical version if you really like the music or book.

Thinking more broadly, this extends to a whole host of digital content. What happens to your Facebook information if you die? Your Dropbox account? Accessing your email? Stories about these circumstances tend to stress the lack of formal legal or corporate agreement of what should be done. How about a “dead digital user bill or rights”?