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CHICAGO-Accounting firm Ernst & Young has finalized negotiations to take 203,618 square feet on floors 19 through 26 in the John Buck Co.’s new 46-story tower at 155 N. Wacker. The firm will take up occupancy in the 1.1-million-square-foot building at its completion in July 2009. With this 10-year lease, the tower, which is seeking LEED Silver certification, is 72% preleased.

“Ernst & Young felt 155 N. Wacker offered very efficient floor plans,” says Rafael Carreira, SVP and project manager with Buck. “It was the right size and the right project for them. It fit their needs for the next 10 years.”

The new tower offers an exterior arcade, garage parking for tenants, state-of-the-art conference centers and a fitness center. Construction, which began in September 2007, is being financed by a bank syndicate led by Bank of America and Helaba. The building is owned by a joint venture of the JBC Opportunity Funds II & III, Morgan Stanley’s Prime Property Fund and Brijus Properties.

Carreira declined to comment on the lease rate for Ernst & Young’s deal, but says asking lease rates in the building range between $26 and $35 per square foot, net. Elaine Melonides, international director, Bill Rogers, managing director, and Dan McCarthy, SVP, all with Jones Lang LaSalle, represented Ernst & Young in the deal. Buck was represented in-house by principal Drew Nieman and VP Bill Truszkowski.

The building is in the West Loop submarket. “It’s traditionally been the strongest submarket in Chicago for the last few years because of its proximity to public transportation serving the city and the suburbs, and the prestige associated with the area,” Carreira tells GlobeSt.com. “Obviously, there’s a lot of reports that vacancies are increasing as the product of market conditions.”

However, Carreira says activity continues to be strong and interest high in the company’s project. “Despite current perceived economic conditions, 155 N. Wacker provides tenants the right product at a great location, and a certainty of delivery,” Carreira says. “Those three things are what tenants are looking for in these times.”

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