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601W Cos. Unveils Amenity Floor in Remade Aon Center

Aon Center's new Cloud Center on the 70th floor.

Office tenants demand more from landlords these days, and the owners of many iconic properties in Chicago have remade their buildings. Blackstone is in the midst of a $500M renovation of its Willis Tower, for example, and 601W Cos. recently opened up its new 34K SF Cloud Level amenity space on Aon Center’s 70th floor overlooking Millennium Park.

Transforming what had been office space into a 16K SF fitness club, a club-like tenant lounge and a variety of conference spaces helps the 1970s-era tower, which the company bought for $713M in 2015, provide services similar to the newest trophy properties.         

“The feedback has been very positive from our existing tenants,” Aon Center General Manager Matt Amato said.

Designed by Gary Lee Partners, Cloud Level has three main components. The first, called Soapbox, contains a series of conference centers that serve from six to 80 people. Peak, the fitness club, also hosts community events on dealing with stress and improving sleep, diet and other habits. And Remedy, the WiFi-enabled tenant lounge, provides coffee and a quiet library, and will soon open up a bar.

“It’s about giving tenants the peace of mind that they will have everything they need right there in their building,” 601W Cos. Managing Partner Mark Karasick said.

Aon Center manager JLL occupies nearly 200K SF, handles leasing along with The Telos Group, and recently acquired Corporate Concierge, which manages the amenities.

In the past 18 months, 416K SF was leased, 70% of which were new leases, and the building is now 95% occupied, Amato said.

The new amenity space complements the company’s 2018 renovation of the lobby and retail corridor, and the Aon Center’s transformation is not over, he said.   

601W Cos. secured approval in November from the Chicago Plan Commission for its $185M plan to add an observation deck, complete with a glass elevator that ascends the building’s exterior. Amato also envisions making better use of the expansive plaza, now little used by the 8,000 people working in the building, and transforming it into a gathering place with seating and umbrellas.

“There will be plenty of opportunities for us to activate the plaza,” Amato said. “Forward-looking owners are recognizing that in order to draw in high-quality tenants, their assets need to offer more than just four walls.”