SKOKIE, IL-When Podco Concourse LLC bought Concourse Office Plaza in early 2003 for $60 per sf, Anixter International Inc. was preparing to move to Glenview, which would ultimately leave the two-building, 293,280-sf asset at Golf Road and Skokie Boulevard 45% vacant. Less than two years later, the complex is 81% occupied, as Podolsky Northstar CORFAC International has filled more than 100,000 sf since taking over leasing of the buildings.

Among the deals are HighTower, Inc., which leases and repairs computers. The company signed a 12,000-sf deal and is relocating from neighboring Lincolnwood. Community Foundation for Jewish Education is moving from Chicago to 5,215 sf. Philadelphia-based Wolters Kluwer Health Inc. is taking 5,000 sf, while Simon Lapidos & Simon, M. Scott Gordon and Michael I. Margolies signed a 3,500-sf deal.

Meanwhile, Northshore Gastroenterology expanded its space to more than 4,200 sf in a lease extension. Also renewing deals of 2,200 sf or less were State Farm Insurance Co., Barris Risdon, Dehlman Cohen & Fink and Stevens Jewelers Wholesaler Manufacturers.

The recent deals are consistent with Podolsky Northstar’s strategy since taking over leasing of 4709 and 4711 W. Golf Rd.—eschew the big deals in favor of smaller leases. The thinking then was the 12,000-sf floorplates made the complex conducive to entrepreneurial and professional services firms. Meanwhile, improvements to the building include a walkway connecting the two buildings to the adjacent 710-car parking garage.

However, occupancy is more than 40,000 sf shy of where it was in early 2003, before Anixter departed for a 165,000-sf build-to-suit at Prairie Glen Corporate Campus. But overall vacancy, including available sublease space, is 21.3% in the Evanston-Skokie office submarket, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s most recent market report, two percentage points more than Concourse Office Plaza’s current mark.

“This recent activity shows that we have been getting our fair share of opportunities in a recovery that has been slower than expected,” says Podolsky Northstar CORFAC International principal Randy D. Podolsky, SIOR. “We are seeing activity and interest levels picking up as we gear up for a strong close to the year.”

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