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Which Spec Office Could Go for $700/SF?

Chicago Office

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That's what River Point, the first spec office tower in more than a decade, could go for in five years. It won't arrive until mid-2016, but its river walk was just finished, so why not celebrate that and Oktoberfest?

Which Spec Office Could Go for $700/SF?

We snapped JLL’s Bruce Miller, LaSalle Investment Management’s David Schreiber, MetLife’s Betsy Clark, and Ivanhoé Cambridge’s Arthur Lloyd yesterday on the river walk at 444 W Lake St, at an event hosted by Hines, Ivanhoé, and COLBA. Bruce noted nearby tech meccas and 101 N Wacker, which he just sold to David for one of LaSalle’s German pension fund clients. The $350/SF deal might sound expensive, but with 300 N LaSalle at $652/SF and River Point likely to go for $700/SF-plus in five years, the deal’s cheap for a foreign, long-term investor, David says. (Chicago yields are also trending higher than the coasts.)

Which Spec Office Could Go for $700/SF?

Hines’ Greg Van Schaack points out Wolf Point’s hot multifamily construction just across the river (behind the panel). Betsy’s using her experience working in Northern California to navigate Chicago’s current tech boom. It’s important to look past tech firms’ financial statements and evaluate business models, she says, noting that MetLife shies away from investments with a large single tenant, no matter how cool and high-tech they are. Her Chicago concerns include the political landscape and public school system, while Arthur says there’s still a perception of the city as having an overbuilt office market.

Which Spec Office Could Go for $700/SF?

That couldn’t be farther from the truth, with so many sites going hotel or residential. (The crowd on the river walk, above.) David says LaSalle isn’t even thinking about investing in the East Loop, Central Loop, or North Michigan anymore. The West Loop and River North have proven themselves as the most amenity-rich and mass transit-friendly neighborhoods, and Upper Wacker is becoming the showpiece with River Point, John O’Donnell’s 150 N Riverside, and 300 N LaSalle.

Which Spec Office Could Go for $700/SF?

We had to include the sunset, which is exactly where the new office tower will be. Arthur says Ivanhoé has taken a page out of Hines’ book for its latest Toronto project (2.5M SF downtown), which copies River Point’s method of straddling railway tracks. (Though everyone is really copying Wile E Coyote.) These office pros probably hope imitation in Chicago keeps to a minimum so we can keep riding these killer market fundamentals.