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CHICAGO-Anchor tenant Bank One has agreed on a Jan. 1 start date of a 15-year lease for 617,180 sf at Dearborn Center, Prime Group Realty Trust’s $355-million, 1.5-million-sf tower in the home stretch of construction. The bank reportedly dropped plans to buy the building earlier this year as well as considered sub-leasing some of its committed space, and the start date of the lease with the REIT was unsettled until this week.

Prime Group Realty Trust reports two-thirds of the building is now leased, and is banking the finished product will help the leasing effort’s final push.

“Now that Dearborn Center is near completion, it shows very well,” says chairman Stephen J. Nardi in an earnings conference call. “The building has been very well-received by the market.”

At approximately $14 million a year, Bank One will become Prime Group’s No. 1 tenant, even though Andersen still leases more space at 656,831 sf, representing 8.6% of the REIT’s portfolio. The embattled accounting firm pays $12.56 million a year for space at 33 W. Monroe St. and IBM Center at 330 N. Wabash Ave., and so far, is current in its obligation.

“We believe they’ll continue to pay for the near term,” says co-president Louis G. Conforti. “I don’t think anybody know the long-term.”

Meanwhile, the REIT has decided to exercise its option to extend the maturity of a $153.2-million loan on the 1.36-million-sf IBM Tower until December 2003, paying an interest rate of about 7%. Prime Group can exercise another one-year extension until December 2004, Conforti says. While the loan requires a 1.4 debt-coverage ratio, it currently stands at 1.64, he adds.

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