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Chicago’s Next Top Building

WASHINGTON DC 04.18.2017

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Chicago’s Next Top Building

After a handful of building completions in 2009, the next set of office development in the Chicago CBD could be six or seven years away. (A long dry spell for everyone but Cubs fans.) But one or two of six new developments could start construction in 2012. Today, we offer a special issue that looks at all the spots where tenants are jockeying for position (and possibly naming rights) in potential new high-rises, any of which could be announced in the next year. It's rendering time!

 
Chicago’s Next Top Building
At 1M SF, Trammell Crow and InSite Real Estate's 301 S Wacker site is the biggest player on the field. TCC's Grady Hamilton tells us it's the best remaining Wacker Drive address, and its LEED Gold certification and access to Lower Wacker could help set the building apart. At 41 stories, it willl have three elevator banks (elevator races!), a fitness center, and a conference center. Tapered near the top, floorplates will range from 28k SF towards the bottom to 24k SF on the top floors. Possible downsides: some say the tower, located between Willis and 311 Wacker, might have limited views, but 301 S Wacker is 216 ft away from Willis, which compares favorably to other recent Wacker Drive developments. CBRE's Bob Gillespie, Ron Lakin, and Rachel Waymire are handling leasing.
 

Chicago’s Next Top Building

It's back: Hines' River Point development was scheduled to start construction three years ago at 1.1M SF with anchor tenants William Blair and Baker McKenzie. When the 2008 financial crisis tabled the project, they pushed it back to an expected start date of 2012. Now slated to be 850k SF in 45 stories, the 444 W Lake site will have a 1.5-acre plaza between the building and the Chicago River. Hines' Greg Van Schaack tells us they are concurrently seeking financing and marketing the building to potential tenants.
400 W Randolph
Just across the street, ex-John Buck exec John O'Donnell is working on closing the land to build an 800k SF to 1M SF tower at the site known as 400 W Randolph. The site, like all the other Riverside Plaza developments, would be a little complicated because it's so near Amtrak tracks. John could also buy the air rights over the tracks, which would make space for a decked plaza above the rails. The project is still being negotiated.
601 W Monroe
The new tower at 601 W Monroe wouldn't be Steve Fifield's first rodeo in the West Loop. Steve already has built four buildings nearby with big tenants: 550 W Washington (Zurich Financial and Starbucks regional offices), 555 W Monroe (Pepsico/Gatorade/Tropicana), 550 W Adams (US Gypsum), and 175 N Jefferson (CTA HQ). He's found success in smaller buildings with larger anchor tenants, and he thinks that might happen again in the planned 421k SF, 26-story building on the 31k SF site. Steve says the big advantage of his building is the extra 31k SF site he owns next door—if the right tenant came along, he could build a floorplate as large as 50k SF. A few of the tech-heavy tenants in the market (like Google and Groupon) are fans of bigger floorplates, which allow more interaction among co-workers, Steve tells us.
Chicago’s Next Top Building
Just around the corner at Adams and Des Plaines, White Oak Realty Partners and The Alter Group have teamed up to develop a potential building consisting of 22 stories with 490k SF. The development site is 41k SF, which offers design efficiencies and flexibility, says White Oak's Tom Saletta. This flexibilty would allow an anchor tenant to customize the building and floor size to meet its requirements. The developers say they will be able to pursue financing with an anchor tenant as small as 180k SF. The plans include a 30-foot ceiling in the lobby directly across from a public park, and five levels of parking above ground. The first office is on the 7th floor and includes a large 32k SF floor with views above the surrounding office buildings, ranging from three to seven stories.
Chicago’s Next Top Building
Jupiter Realty purchased its site at 108 N Jefferson with an eye toward constructing a smaller version of its 215 W Washington apartment tower. But after hearing objections from the Fulton River District Community Association and Alderman Brendan Reilly to more multifamily, Jupiter is developing an office tower for the site, Jupiter's Michael Pompizzi tells us. The 19-story, 350k SF building is small enough that a tenant as small as 200k SF could get signage that would be visible from the Kennedy Expressway. Michael tells us many tenants today are more interested in efficient, eco-friendly buildings with flexible floor plates near transit hubs (as opposed to the former focus on massive-lobby Loop buildings). The SCB-designed building will include in-building parking, concierge service, food and service tenants in the lobby, and work-out facilities. Jupiter is aiming to earn LEED Silver.
 
Chicago’s Next Top Building
There's still a handful of rumored sites out there whose developers have remained mum on their plans. The John Buck Co had an option on a site at 222 W Randolph (above), and their website lists it as a possible development. DRI owns a site near Wacker and Congress. So who will win the race to get the first tenant and break ground on the first new office tower? Colliers' Tom Volini tells us 400 W Randolph should be the preferred site because of its terrific views, location and efficient floor plate, design, and infrastructure. But our sources say it could be any of the top six here—it's primarily going to depend on the size of the tenant. There's only a handful of (mostly financial services) firms that could kick off a building more than 800k SF, while a wide variety of tenants could start off a building of 400k SF or less.