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CHICAGO-While five properties totaling 2.5 million sf changed hands in the first quarter, the action on the office building sales front was in the suburbs. Specifically, the 29-million-sf East-West Corridor.

“Investors continue to see opportunities as vacancy is decreasing in the suburban market,” according to director of market research Kevin A. Stanley in a recent U.S. Equities Realty’s report that noted 21 suburban sales totaling 4.5 million sf. Of that volume, nine buildings totaling 1.6 million sf changed hands in deals totaling more than $162 million.

Two of the largest sales were in the 11.8-million-sf O’Hare submarket, with John Buck Co. paying $90 million for the 631,445-sf, two-building Triangle Plaza property along the Kennedy Expressway and Equity Office Properties Trust’s $57.7-million acquisition of Pointe O’Hare I in Rosemont. Pointe O’Hare I commanded the richest price among all first-quarter deals at $219 per sf.

Still, the biggest-ticket sales were Downtown, with Beacon Capital Partners LLC paying $126 million for 200 S. Wacker Dr. and Henry Crown Co. buying 222 N. LaSalle St. for $120 million. Another nine properties are on the market or under contract, U.S. Equities Realty reports. “If this pace of real estate transactions continues, 2006 could be another banner year for the Chicago marketplace,” according to the report.

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