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Who will win tenant race in Chicago's office Loop?

CHICAGO - Berwyn, Pa.-based LCOR Inc. has submitted plans to the city of Chicago for approval of a 40-story, 1 million sq. ft. office tower at 181 North Clark Street. Pending approval, construction for the $175 million development is expected to begin early next year and be completed by the second quarter of 2002. The building includes 400,000 sq. ft. for approximately 650 fully-enclosed parking spaces.

The LCOR announcement came just days before Chicago's largest office project, One North Wacker, announced its construction start. That $250 million, 1.3 million sq. ft. project is a joint venture between Lend Lease's Value Enhancement Fund III and local developer John Buck.

LCOR is currently negotiating with anchor tenants looking for more than 200,000 sq. ft. and would also like to focus on several smaller users in the 50,000 sq. ft. to 75,000 sq. ft. range, according to Edward Polich, senior vice president at LCOR. Polich estimates that the company's equity stake will total between 25% and 45%. Although he does not anticipate approval or financing difficulties, one barrier, which LCOR hopes is temporary, stands in the way.

"We have to get a tenant," says Polich. "We don't think anyone in this market lacks the savvy to think, 'We'll build it, and they will come.'"

The new development will connect the North Loop business district with the North Loop theater district on one block. The block, which is bounded by Dearborn, Randolph, Clark and Lake streets, is also the new home of the Goodman Theater and the Chicago Title Tower at 161 North Clark. LCOR expects the theater's proximity to contribute to after-hours cash flow for 181 Clark's parking facilities.

The company initially planned to build 1 million sq. ft. of office space, but deemed it too risky, especially when the demand for parking in the North Loop area was so apparent, Polich says.

"After spending the last three months trying to lease this building, I'm even more convinced of that," he says.

The 40-story glass, granite and stainless steel building will also include conference and retail facilities. The 15th floor will house the Conference Center at 181 North Clark. Floors 16 through 40 will be used as office space with floorplates ranging from 22,520 to 23,230 sq. ft.

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