Billionaire John Paul DeJoria buys McDonald’s campus in Illinois

The former McDonald’s 80-acre campus in Oak Brook, Illinois, has a new owner months after the fast food giant vacated the property.

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John Paul DeJoria, the billionaire who co-founded John Paul Mitchell Systems, purchased the Illinois complex for an undisclosed amount. The site includes the McDonald’s former main office building, the Hamburger University training site and the Hyatt Lodge, JLL, the real estate firm that’s been working with the fast food giant in selling the campus said in a news release Wednesday.

The real estate company said a “dedicated” team based in Austin, Texas, will lead the campus’ future development. It’s unclear what DeJoria plans to do with the location, but the 218-room Hyatt hotel will reportedly remain open.

McDonald's campus, which including Hamburger University, in Oak Brook, Illinois, was sold to Billionaire John Paul DeJoria. (Getty Images)

“This campus comes with a rich history and significance to the community, and there’s such beauty throughout the entire site,” DeJoria said in a news release Wednesday. “I am honored to continue that legacy and we look forward to welcoming the next generation of special guests and corporations to the property. There’s most certainly going to be a bright future ahead."

DeJoria amassed a $2.6 billion net worth through his popular hair care company and tequila maker Patron Spirits. He started John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980 after partnering with Paul Mitchell and investing $700, Forbes reported. He purchased a stake in Patron Spirits in 1989 and grew the company’s sales by more than $800 million.

McDonald’s left the campus and put it on the market after moving its headquarters to Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood last spring — part of a push to make the Golden Arches a “more modern and progressive burger company,” CNBC previously reported. The chain began selling some of its properties in Oak Brook in 2017, but rumors naming DeJoria as a potential buyer of the campus only emerged this March.

John Paul DeJoria purchased the campus for an undisclosed amount. (Getty Images)

The campus is described as McDonald’s “crown jewel” of owned properties, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Hamburger University was the site where the company trained thousands of managers, mid-managers, owners and operators by teaching them the ins and outs of the fast food chain.

Joe Endress, McDonald's vice president in facilities and systems, said the fast-food chain is excited to see what DeJoria does to the property.

"John Paul is an iconic entrepreneur also known for giving back and we couldn’t think of anyone better to lead the future of this landmark site that is extremely meaningful to the Oak Brook community,” Endress said in a statement.

Oak Brook Village President Gopal Lalmalani also voiced his enthusiasm for DeJoria purchasing the campus.

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“We’re very pleased and excited about having John Paul come to Oak Brook and specifically to the McDonald’s campus,” Lalmalani said. “He plans to keep the property looking very much as it does now, and we like that much better than seeing the beautiful campus divided, for example, into nine different spaces.”

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