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CHICAGO-The Big Ten Network, a college sports channel scheduled to launch in August, has signed a lease for its headquarters in 44,000 sf of office and studio space at 600 W. Chicago in the River North neighborhood. The new company will spend $18 million to renovate the space in the former Montgomery Ward building. The new space will include two studios and three control rooms, as well as 20,000 sf of office space.

The value of the transaction was not disclosed. According to Grubb & Ellis, the asking price for class B office space in the River North market is at $24.86 per sf. The building was built in 1908 and renovated in 2000, and was initially renovated to cater to the technology industry. It now serves firms across a wide spectrum of industries including Bankers Life and Casualty Co. and the Wrigley Co.

Brad Despot, vice president with Jones Lang LaSalle, tells GlobeSt.com “when ownership sought to develop this building in 2000, this is exactly the kind of tenant they envisioned. They want creative businesses, people looking to make something cool, fun and funky.” He and Gary Kostecki negotiated the Big Ten deal on behalf of the ownership group, Taconic Investment Partners, Angelo Gordon & Co., Centrum Properties and Amerimar Enterprises. Robert Sevim, David Gordon and Kelly Givens with Studley negotiated for Big Ten.

Despot tells GlobeSt.com that the building will be about 75% leased with the Big Ten deal, and some other leases that are currently wrapping up. “We should be making another announcement in the next two weeks,” Despot says. He says the office building has seen more than 200,000 sf of space leased this year, and about 235,000 sf of space leased last year.

The Big Ten Network will be owned by the Big Ten Conference, with Fox Sports having a minority interest, and will operate 24 hours a day. Company president Mark Silverman says in a statement that the production facilities will be state-of-the-art. “We’re looking forward to building out the space immediately so it will be completed well in advance of our August launch.” The company is also earning a $3.2-million business investment package for the lease from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

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