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CHICAGO-A joint venture between Hines, headquartered in Houston, and Chicago food service entrepreneur Larry Levy is planning a $400-million office tower development along the Chicago River at Lake and Canal streets. The 1.1-million-sf office tower at 200 N. Riverside Plaza will be anchored by William Blair & Co., an investment firm currently at 222 W. Adams St. The River Pointe development will be 50 stories and will be constructed on a 2.5-acre site with plans for a boutique hotel to adjoin the tower, says Greg Van Schaack, senior vice president at Hines regional office here.

William Blair, which has been located at 222 W. Adams St. since 1994, has signed a letter of intent to lease 325,000 sf of the 1.1-million-sf structure. The firm will occupy three low-rise floors and 10 high-rise floors. Van Schaack could not disclose the term for the lease, except to say it is a “long-term” lease since a contract has not been signed with the firm yet. Sources say the asking lease rate is about $50 per sf gross. Staubach Co. represented William Blair in the letter of intent negotiations. The building will also have approximately 15,000 sf of retail that will be “amenity retail” serving the office tenants, he says.

Construction on the building is expected to begin late next year and is expected to be complete in June 2011. The tower was designed by Pickard Chilton Architects, based in New Haven, CT. The building will have curved glass and elliptical 25,000-sf floor plates. The project will have a 1.5-acre public park, and a boutique hotel of between 150 to 200 rooms is planned to adjoin the tower. Construction on the hotel would begin the same time as the tower, but the joint venture will not be developing the hotel, Van Schaack says. “We are offering it for sale to other developers,” he says. Representatives from Hines had previously pegged the value of the hotel at about $65 million.

Levy had owned the property for about 20 years when the majority of the office activity in the West Loop was on the east side of the Chicago River, Van Schaack says. About 95% of the buildings along the river are office space and Hines believes it is “the highest and best use” for the property, he says. A hotel was proposed for the development because “hotels are lacking in that area” and the site to the north of the building is narrow. “The only use is condos or a hotel because the footprint is so small,” he says. William Blair also wanted to see a hotel as an amenity for their clients, Van Schaack says.

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