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This Building's Makeover Will Blow Your Mind

Chicago Office

The more office changes, the more it stays the same. (Before Bon Jovi said it, the epigram was penned by Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, Wikipedia tells us.) Trends toward creative and high-tech space have come full circle in the makeover of the iconic Chicago Board of Trade Building, where we’ll hold our Office Summit this Thursday, May 1.


GlenStar Properties and USAA Real Estate Co are behind the almost two-year transformation. GlenStar principal and happy Hawks fan Rand Diamond tells us the building historically had a insular feel and clubby relationship between ownership (CBOT, then CME) and tenants, which were mainly traders. GlenStar’s strategy was to open up the Art Deco gem to the business and brokerage community who, for the most part, were unfamiliar with the building. (Most likely, they just walked through to get from Jackson to Van Buren.) Their prospective tenant base—tech—plays to both the hot submarket and the building’s strengths. With all the trading going on at the CBOT Building, it’s crucial it never goes down, Rand says.


So you can imagine the depth of its redundancy across power, cooling, and fiber-optic connectivity. (In layman’s terms, you’ll never shut down mid-Facebook post.) That’s about as good as it gets in Chicago. “We felt like we could take advantage of the robust infrastructure here and make it a more open and amenity-rich building,” Rand says. With a dozen telecom providers already in the building, GlenStar created a “Meet Me” room on the 6th floor, where tenants can get competitive bids from each provider (and more choices than the Burger King menu). They’ve built a new telecom riser going through the building vertically, which includes some fiber-optic filled conduits and others empty for lease by larger tenants that prefer their own fiber lines, Rand says.


GlenStar updated the South Building lobby’s ‘80s look (and moved building security one floor up to help pedestrian traffic flow), enhanced the retail tenancy (new Mezza Grill, high-end cappuccino bar, 10k SF Fitness Formula Club, etc.), opened up a 24/7 conferencing facility, and even gave the public a peek at the building’s super cool vault, above. The firm spent $22M on upgrades last year (including corridors, bathrooms, and lighting), and a large roof deck is in the works this year, Rand tells us. GlenStar has been focused on introducing the new and improved CBOT building to brokers (its best future advocates), and the reception is clear in 50-plus post-makeover leases signed (including tech firms Data Stream and V3). Sign up and see the new space for yourself on Thursday.