“We were always planning and knew that the (office) building needed to be redesigned according to the way people worked,” Caffrey said, noting that the office upgrades were combined with the hiring of civil servants. “Renovation is what we’ve been doing, and ARPA has allowed us to do it on a bigger scale.”
Caffrey said the county took advantage of weak demand across the market to secure a “very favorable” rent for the building and 12 months of free rent. Her county contract comes with one two-year renewal option, she said.
Spanning nearly 300,000 square feet over the next few years, much of the renovation will focus on moving private offices from the perimeter of the building to the center of the floor to bring more natural light into the space. The county will also make spaces accessible to people with disabilities and update outdated spaces such as conference rooms that haven’t been renovated in over 50 years. The space being renovated is a relatively small portion of the 1.8 million square feet of total office space County occupies in all three of his buildings.
County officials said the total cost of the renovation work has not been determined but will likely come from a combination of ARPA funds and the county’s capital improvement budget. The plan is expected to be approved by the Cook County Commission this fall.
Leasing space to a government agency is not fancy for a top quality or Class A office building like 161 N. Clark St. difficult to get.
The 1.1 million-square-foot tower at 161 N. Clark St. was 71% leased before the county transaction, according to real estate information firm CoStar Group.
The building is owned by a CBRE Investment Management venture. Purchased for $331 million In 2013, on behalf of a consortium of Korean investors led by South Korea’s postal service, Korea Post. A spokesman for CBRE He Investments did not respond to a request for comment.
The county contract will also expire around the same time as Google. scheduled to occupy The renovated James R. Thompson Center across from 161 N. Clark. The presence of a tech giant at the heart of the Loop and the revival of his outdated 17-story building may lure other companies to nearby buildings.