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CHICAGO-C&R Research Services, a marketing research firm, has signed a lease for 48,861 sf and will occupy the entire 11th floor at 500 N. Michigan Ave. The firm had previously leased 34,661 sf, making the expansion an increase of 40% more space. The term of the lease is coterminous with the firm’s lease that was renewed for a 15-year term in 2005, says Robert Sevim, corporate managing director with Studley.

Sevim represented C&R Research in the lease transaction. Building owner Zeller Realty, which is headquartered here, was represented in-house by Bob Six and Paul Eleftheriou.

C&R Research is the largest tenant in the building, leasing more than 15% of the building. “They have grown organically [and] quite aggressively over the past five to seven years,” Sevim says. The marketing research firm has been a tenant in the building for more than 15 years, Sevim says. The firm is leasing the last full floor available, Sevim says. The 322,443-sf class B office building, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, was constructed in 1967 and renovated in 1990.

Zeller Realty acquired the 24-story building from Fosterlane Holdings, the investment arm for the government of Kuwait, in November 2006 for $49 million, or about $152 per sf, sources say. Zeller Realty received $52.9 million in financing from General Electric Capital Corp. for the acquisition. The building was 80% leased at the time of the acquisition with major tenants including C&R Research, Bank of America and Verizon. The building is “very well leased” and, currently, “is certainly over 90%” leased, Sevim says. The building is a “boutique building” with a mix of smaller tenants such as marketing and communication firms, consulate generals and foreign agencies, he says.

The North Michigan Avenue and East Loop submarkets have been becoming stronger, Sevim says. “There has been continued growth of medium and large sized companies,” Sevim says. Companies are expanding in the submarket and are also moving to the submarket as they grow whereas, two or three years ago, companies were moving to the Central Loop and West Loop submarkets, which had “more of the perception of a better submarket,” he says. Additionally, advertising and marketing firms, such as C&R Research, tend to lease space in the North Michigan Avenue and East Loop submarkets and those types of businesses have been doing well. “They are a direct offshoot of how the economy is doing,” he says.

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