30 of Our Most Memorable Appraisal Assignments

And Then Some

  1. After 30 years and over 17,000+ assignments (yes, really), we’ve seen a thing or two. Below we share some of our most iconic appraisal assignments. We can’t always share everything and for those, well you’ll just have to use your imagination. One thing is certain, there really is no cookie-cutter assignment at Argianas.


  1. 1. Hotel Del Coronado, in San Diego, CA. A historic beachfront 757 room hotel built in the Victorian Beach Resort style, it is the second-largest wooden structure in the United States.


  1. 2. Cigna World Headquarters, in Bloomfield, CT. A commercial office complex and early example of suburban office architecture occupying 30 acres (initially 280 acres with the Gillette Ridge Golf Club) standing approximately 600 feet or 3 stories. The structure was designed so no interior spaces are more than 30 feet from a window.


  1. 3. 150 Property Portfolio, for a Fortune 500 industrial supply company. The properties consisted of a vast intermodal logistics infrastructure for the delivery of motors, lighting, material handling, fasteners, plumbing, tools and safety supplies across all 50 states.


  1. 4. Amish Theme Park, a nationally landmarked theme park with over 100 acres of vintage buildings including a functioning distillery, 400-seat amphitheater/performing arts center, a 400-seat family-style restaurant, a 200-seat Barn Loft Grill and a 64-room Inn in the Midwest.


  1. 5. ABC Headquarters Tower, home to the American Broadcasting Company with over 1,200,000 square feet on 22 floors.


  1. 6. Multiple barge facilities along the Illinois River, after you cut your teeth on the first barge facility, you see patterns that an inexperienced appraiser doesn’t appreciate. The Illinois River forms part of a modern waterway that connects the Great Lakes, through entry at Chicago and out through the Mississippi River out to the Gulf of Mexico. These properties often have massive amounts of infrastructure, from dredged floors to seawalls built into the bedrock of the property. Barging terminals and facilities remain a backbone of transport in the United States.


  1. 7. Motorola Headquarters, a 325-acre property where Motorola once employed over 5,000 in a four building 1.5 million square foot complex. The now demolished campus featured multi-level floors and labs dealing with the research and development of the company. The property played a key role in the development of semiconductors, radios, and computer-related equipment.


  1. 8. The Chicago Theater, originally known as the Balaban & Katz Chicago Theater named for the operators in 1921 and built in the French Baroque style, the 3,600 auditorium is seven stories high and more than one half a city block wide. The large marquee in front is instantly recognizable and the theater was added in 1979 as a National Register of Historic Places.


  1. 9. Mining/Mineral Rights Property, a functional sand mine with over 700 acres of mining silica and an additional 200 acres of land utilized for farming in the Midwest. “It’s in a location that you’d never realize,” shares Vice President Alexander Argianas, “we go about our lives but sometimes there’s more activity going on below the surface than just dirt and bugs.”


  1. 10. City National Plaza, (formerly known as the ARCO Towers Plaza) an Art-deco twin tower complex located in downtown L.A. with 4,600,000 square feet and 52 floors.


11. Biomedical Facility, a research and development headquarters located in the Midwest; our lips are sealed!


  1. 12. Chase Plaza, a triangular glass high-rise located in downtown L.A. in the Bunker Hill neighborhood, over 700,000 square feet and 22 floors.


  1. 13. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a two-tower office building with 1,250,000 square feet and 40 floors, initially founded in 1898 as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board.


  1. 14. The Quaker Tower (321 North Clark), a 35-story and over 1 million square feet skyscraper built in 1983 on the north bank of the Chicago River. Don’t get too close to the edge of the flat roof!


  1. 15. Industrial Chemical Processing Plant for an international conglomerate. The property is a complex of over 60 buildings with over 600,000 square feet and over 100 underground storage reservoirs on over 700+ acres in Southern Illinois.


  1. 16. Biomedical Animal Facility Unique properties come across our desks, this was no exception — we put on boots, hosed down with preventative chemicals and got to work. This multi-level, multi-acre compound featured numerous isolation areas, specialized infrastructure and equipment, biosafety level monitoring and containment, and a large processing facility. This particular property served as the first of its kind in the world able to accommodate new and novel food production to better meet the needs of the world’s population.


  1. 17. Water Tower Place Shopping Mall, located on the Magnificent Mile, a mixed-use retail and office space with 758,000 square feet.


  1. 18. Woodfield Shopping Center, a super-regional shopping center in Schaumburg, IL with more than 228 tenant spaces, over 800,000 million square feet of gross leasable area, and over 1.2 million square feet of gross building area. A property we have appraised many times over our 30 years.


  1. 19. Trammel Crow Center, a post-modern skyscraper located in the Arts District of Dallas, TX with 1,128,000 square feet and 50 stories.


  1. 20. The John Wanamaker Department Store in Philadelphia, PA, one of the first department stores in the United States, a 12-story granite structure completed in 1911 and a total of 1,401,000 square feet.


21. Superregional Mall in Iowa, an enormous shopping center with over 1.2 million square feet of total retail floor area, over 5,000 parking spaces on over 43 acres.


  1. 22. Downtown CBD Groundlease The ground lease/rights beneath a historic skyscraper in the central business district of New York City with over 2 million square feet; we won’t kiss and tell but we bet if you walked by a gift shop in downtown NYC you’d know it.


  1. 23. Historic Mansion on Chicago’s Gold Coast. A swanky swingin’ location famous for the plaque above its door, among other things… If the walls could talk…


  1. 24. One Prudential Plaza, a 41-story structure in Chicago completed in 1955 as the headquarters for Prudential’s Mid-America company. The first skyscraper built in Chicago following the Great Depression. Close to 1.8 million square feet of floor area.


  1. 25. Commercial Greenhouse Growing Facility located in North Carolina with over 160 acres, over 2 million growing spaces and an automated infrastructure for high efficiency growing operations. Picture football fields full of flowers!


26. Superfund Site, a contaminated superfund site costing over $150 million in clean up and remediation with plans for re-use.


  1. 27. John Deere Headquarters located in Moline, IL. is a complex of four buildings located on over 1,400 acres. Opened in 1964 the building is one of the first to use COR-TEN weathering steel, unique for the time. With room for over 900 staff, and a 350-seat auditorium. The headquarters also house the world’s largest agricultural museum.


  1. 28. Multiple Powerplant Portfolios, locations throughout the continental United States. Okay, so technically this isn’t one property but each time it leaves us electrified! Whether it was deregulation of the power industry or the appraisal of coal plants that have passed their usefulness and energy source, Argianas has been there at every step, and we’ve done it with honesty, integrity, and attention to detail.


  1. 29. The Palmer House Hilton, a historic hotel in Chicago’s loop and part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The first hotel in the city with elevators and electric light bulbs and telephones. Built as a wedding present for Bertha Honoré, Potter Palmer’s bride, the original hotel burned down just 13 days after the grand opening during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The hotel was rebuilt and opened its doors in November of 1873.


  1. 30. Medical Center, on over 20 acres and over 600,000 square feet of medical grade office space located in downtown Cleveland. OH.


  1. 31. Private Estate Home located in Illinois, featuring one of the world’s largest collections of automated musical instruments and a banquet hall built to mimic the halls of one of the most famous Disney castles.


So, who didn’t make the list? We’ll admit, after 30 years, there are so many properties that have touched our lives and made us the appraisers we are. With an honest and open mind each assignment is a learning opportunity for the new guard and reaffirmation for the wise. Read through our bonus list for favorites that we couldn’t leave out.

We’ve been known to appraise a university campus or two; whether near New York’s Central Park or throughout the Chicagoland MSA, we’ve seen many.

  • A 50-property portfolio for a NYSE listed REIT, the work we do has real-world impacts, this large portfolio allowed us to stress test the portfolio of a publicly-traded company and provide streamlined, consistent reports that passed the scrutiny of investors.
  • An over 60-acre land parcel with over 100,000 square feet mental health facility in Texas.
  • Governmental Research Facility. Odd and unique properties still need to be valued and we get the opportunity to see some of the special properties that help our government function. While we’re understandably limited in what we can discuss, our experience allows us to provide services that ensure the government’s needs are met whenever they call on our team.
  • Maximum Security Correctional Facility. The Argianas team was retained to prepare an estimate of market value for a maximum-security prison subject to the highest level of confidentiality given the sensitive nature of this property type. State and federally operated prisons have differing operating requirements (different physical property designs) associated with cellblock/pod features, prison grounds including administrative and service buildings, libraries, classrooms, gymnasiums, healthcare facilities, and visiting areas. Built to house aggressive and violent inmates, the cellblocks featured accommodations for 1,500+ beds in multiple pods, within the complex including a gatehouse, a warehouse, guard towers, on-site waste treatment, laundry, food prep area and extensive specialty security features. Using the Cost Approach, the property’s land value was summed with the complex’s depreciated construction costs.
  • Medina Temple, built for the Shriners by Huehl and Schmidt in 1912, the building is a remarkable example of Moorish Revival architecture in Chicago’s River North Neighborhood. The remarkable history of the property was evident as the murals and walls displayed the property’s history. Climbing the scaffolded dome provided for an awe-inspiring view of the auditorium we won’t soon forget.
  • The Bell Headquarters, originally built the Ameritech Center in Hoffman Estates, IL. This former AT&T headquarters development is a 150-acre corporate campus with over 1.65 million square feet that housed, at its peak, 5,000 employees.


We can’t list everything, we’ve done or share some of the things we’ve seen, but we’ve taken our work seriously over the last 30 years and had a blast doing it. Anything that is worth doing is worth having fun. With out of the ordinary assignments and many properties left to appraise, we’re optimistic for the next 30 years.