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HAMMOND, IN-BP North America has signed a lease for a 64,150-sf building at 6529 S. Columbia Ave., here. BP will use the building for its Interim Learning and Development Center.

Raymond Dempsey, broker with Chicago Real Estate Inc., represented building ownership, Franklin Park, IL-based Central Raceway LLC, in the lease transaction. Michael Thomas, of Jones Lang LaSalle, represented BP North America.

The tenant had been using space in the refinery in Whiting, IN for the learning center but “outgrew the space,” Dempsey tells GlobeSt.com. BP chose the building, in part, because it will have 350 parking spaces, of the 400-car parking lot, dedicated to the learning and development center, he says.

The energy firm spent $8.5 million on improvements to the building, Dempsey says. The building is near the East 165th Street retail corridor. The building was acquired by Central Grocers Inc. in 2002 and was operated as a Sterk’s Super Foods grocery store until April 2007.

An 8,400-sf strip center is also on the 9-acre property, which is currently being renovated into a retail center, Dempsey says. The 8,400-sf building was constructed in 1954 and used to be a grocery store, he says. A 2,500-sf building leased by First Midwest Bank is also on the nine-acre parcel.

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