EXCLUSIVE: Stephen Sise On Golub's $10M Improvements At 300 South Wacker
The southwest Loop is one of downtown’s busiest areas of development activity, spearheaded by the redevelopments of Willis Tower, the Post Office and Union Station, and we can add another redevelopment to the books: 300 South Wacker. Golub & Co. and Alcion Ventures, which bought the 36-story building for $155M last May, are spending more than $10M to renovate and rebrand the building into “The 300.”
Golub Senior Vice President of Portfolio Management Stephen Sise said the rebranding and renovations are an “awakening” intended to leverage The 300’s location and allow it to compete in what is shaping up to be a competitive leasing submarket.
The building has unique features to its location, with Wacker Drive on one side, the Chicago River on the other and unobstructed 360-degree views of downtown. The building also features 16K SF floor plates, allowing small or midsize companies to occupy full floors and have amenities more common in larger properties. Sise said the renovations will position The 300 as one of downtown’s most technologically innovative buildings, which all types of tenants want.
“We’ve learned that every type of industry wants tech-forward space. We see the rebranding as a way for all industries to get the technical feel for the building,” Sise said.
Renovations started shortly after Golub and Alcion closed on the building. Corridor renovations started in the fall, along with building 23K SF in spec office suites. Sise said only 6K SF of that remains unoccupied. Golub has inked 22K SF in new leases and 50K SF in renewals in the past year with tenants such as Verifone and law firm Greer, Burns & Crain pushing The 300’s occupancy rate to 95%.
“Tenants have bought in to what we’re doing with the building and we view the leasing activity as validation,” Sise said.
Sise said The 300’s existing infrastructure inside the building was good when Golub and Alcion bought the property from Beacon Capital Partners. Beacon had upgraded the building’s operations systems, made it more energy efficient and attained LEED Gold certification. Golub is working with WiredScore to prepare the building for Wired certification. Sise said The 300 already has fiber but superior connectivity has moved from a “nice to have” amenity to a “must-have” amenity. Golub is looking to push fiber connectivity past being a box to check off on a list of tenant requirements.
Golub partnered with Rise Buildings, an app-based program that enhances tenant interaction with the building’s security and engineering teams. Tenants can use Rise Buildings to place work orders, for example. Golub is looking at other ways to bring in new tech and software to increase efficiency.
The strength of the operations systems Golub inherited allowed the firm to focus much of the renovation plan toward enhancing existing amenities and building new ones. Golub is upgrading The 300’s conference center and fitness rooms with new equipment. The conference room now has new AV tech, while the fitness room is home to a Peloton stationary bike that has proven so popular with tenants that they need to reserve time to use it. Sise said more bikes are on the way.
The bulk of the new amenities will be on the lobby level. A space to the south of the lobby, formerly held by an office tenant, is being repurposed into an amenity lounge with a coffee bar. Golub added a fast-casual Mexican restaurant, Dos Toros Taqueria, and is installing a stationary food truck serving as both public art and a service piece. The truck will serve a rotating selection of cuisines.
On The 300’s lower level, Golub is building a bike room with direct access to Wacker Drive, and a group exercise and yoga studio. Finally, Golub is enhancing The 300’s landscaping along the river, making it more visible from the tenant lounge. Sise said Golub is eyeing a fall 2018 completion for the amenities package.