CHICAGO—Alter Group officials never seem veryworried about the 2015 departure of Google from160,000-square-feet in its 20 West Kinzie building. They remainconfident that the building's qualities and the extraordinarydemand for River North offices will help fill that hole. AndChicago-based Alter has just signed up a new fine-dining restaurantfor the 17-story, 385,000-square-foot building, increasing thechance that firms looking for space next year will continue to seeit as a vibrant destination.

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David Flom and Matt Moore, theproprietors behind the Chicago Cut Steakhouse inRiver North and The Local Chicago in the GoldCoast, will develop the restaurant, C Fish-HouseChicago, their third venture. Chicago architectMark Knauer of Knauer Inc., whodesigned local dining establishments such as HarryCaray's, Trattoria No. 10, AtwoodCafé and The Gage, will design thespace.

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“River North is really Chicago's only 24/7 neighborhood,”Matthew Ward, senior managing director ofNewmark Grubb Knight Frank and exclusive leasingagent for 20 W. Kinzie, told GlobeSt.com, making it the mostattractive submarket for the many firms seeking to attract youngerworkers. “It's more crowded at 8 o'clock at night than it is at 8o'clock in the morning, and it's really the only neighborhood youcan say that about.”

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“Office and restaurant space is more coveted in River North thananywhere else in the city because it is the center of Chicago'sdining, gallery, nightclub and shopping action,” addedRichard Gatto, Alter's executive vice president.“Unlike newer markets like the West Loop, River North gives you atrue city experience with its proximity to Michigan Ave.,Millennium Park and the Gold Coast.”

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Alter has made other recent progress in attracting muchsought-after tenants. Early in the spring, the company signedModest Inc., a firm recently founded by techentrepreneurs Harper Reed and DylanRichard, to an 11,000-square-foot lease, andSittercity, an online child care provider, to13,350-square-feet.

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According to MB Real Estate, since the end ofthe recession, River North has seen its direct vacancy rate drop730 bps from 16.4% to 9.1%.

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.