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CHICAGO-Fitness Formula Clubs has signed on for 52,000 square feet on two levels of the 50-story Presidential Towers apartment community. This lease, along with Yolk restaurant’s commitment to open its third Chicago location in 4,200 square feet, marks the first step in a total redevelopment of the property’s 135,000-square-foot retail component. Constructed at 555 W. Madison about two decades ago, the four-tower residential community encompasses two city blocks in Chicago’s West Loop and previously housed retail in internal shopping corridors for residents that were largely inaccessible to the public.

Building owner Waterton Residential brought in CB Richard Ellis to market the space and act as consultant on the recent renovation project, which focuses in part on increasing external accessibility. “When the building was built in the late 1980s, the West Loop was an area that wasn’t particularly desirable – not at all like it is today, when it’s where everyone wants to be and an extraordinary place to have your headquarters,” Bruce Kaplan, SVP with CBRE, tells GlobeSt.com. “We fastforward 20 years and the area is now remarkably desirable and very heavily trafficked.”

The Presidential Towers houses 2,346 apartments, and the neighborhood surrounding in an eight-minute walking radius sees a residential and daytime population of 136,000 people, Kaplan says. “Now we’re going to take advantage of the area’s residential and office population,” Kaplan says. “This is going to be a neighborhood development, serving the residents of Presidential Towers and the surrounding three or four blocks.”

Asking lease rates range from $32 to $50 per square foot net at the property’s redeveloped retail component. Expected to deliver to tenants in summer 2010, space is available in sizes ranging from 2,000 to 30,000 square feet. The property, which is also undergoing a renovation of apartment units, offers 1,159 in-building parking spaces.

Kaplan says while the recession stalled Waterton’s redevelopment of its retail space by about a year, it had an even larger impact on some other developments, which still remain on hold. “There’s very limited inventory here and the West Loop has lagged behind the rest of downtown area for reasons I can’t understand,” he says. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the demand for retail space, and the amount of interest is a testament to what a great location this is.”

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