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CHICAGO-Sears Tower may be looking more like a keeper for its owner, MetLife. Bank of America, the fifth-largest tenant in the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, has renewed its lease on 177,000 sf over three full floors through 2015.

Although lease terms were not disclosed, published net lease rates at the 3.5-million-sf building at 233 S. Wacker Dr. range from $16 per sf to $22 per sf, which would put the value of the renewal in the neighborhood of $34 million to $47 million.

Occupancy at the 110-story tower stands at 89%, two percentage points above the overall Downtown rate for class A space, according to US Equities Realty’s most recent market report. The Bank of America deal follows last month’s 150,000-sf renewal by UNICARE through 2014.

A MetLife spokesperson recently denied reports the insurance company is looking to sell the building it acquired earlier this year when Trizec Properties Inc. declined to turn a second mortgage position into a full ownership stake. Instead, MetLife, which already held the $766-million first mortgage on the property, paid the REIT $9 million for its paper.

Although MetLife confirms that it’s hiring Eastdil Realty, the spokesperson says the assignment involves advising on the insurance company’s $30-billion real estate portfolio.

Trizec Properties continues to manage and lease space at Sears Tower, with director of leasing Jon Blunk handling negotiations for MetLife while Jones Lang LaSalle SVP Steven Steinmeyer represented Bank of America.

While Sears Tower is 30 years old, it has electrical and telecommunications infrastructures offered by its newer West Loop competitors, says Trizec Properties SVP Stephen Budorick, including on-site backup power. That proved important in negotiations with Bank of America, which has a large trading floor, he notes.

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