United Airlines eyeing move out of its 850K sf HQ in Willis Tower

The Chicago-based carrier reportedly had talks with firms behind several proposed developments around the city

From left: Blackstone's Jonathan Gray, Willis Tower at 233 South Wacker Drive, and United CEO Oscar Munoz (Credit: Pixabay and United)
From left: Blackstone's Jonathan Gray, Willis Tower at 233 South Wacker Drive, and United CEO Oscar Munoz (Credit: Pixabay and United)

United Airlines is eyeing a move out of its 850,000-square-foot headquarters in the iconic Willis Tower.

The Chicago-based carrier has had talks in recent months with firms behind several large proposed developments around the city about moving its offices into their projects, according to Crain’s.

But United has made no official decision about whether it will move out of the Blackstone Group-owned skyscraper when its termination option comes up in 2023. United would have to exercise that option at least two years in advance.

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A number of large developments in the works across the city all could accommodate United’s headquarters, such as sprawling sites on the North and South branches of the Chicago River, the Old Main Post Office overhaul, the Tribune Tower property overhaul, the still vacant former Michael Reese Hospital site and even Fulton Market, which has the Google Midwest headquarters and McDonald’s.

Many of the sites have been mentioned as possible locations for Amazon’s second North America headquarters, and all of them will be looking for office tenants whether or not the e-commerce giant picks Chicago for HQ2.

Some experts said Blackstone will do whatever it takes to keep United in the 18 floors it occupies in the 110-story building, which Blackstone bought in 2015 for $1.3 billion, and refinanced for $1.3 billion last year. [Crain’s] — John O’Brien

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