Chicago law firm Jenner & Block is turning the tables on its landlord. The law firm claims the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a clause in its lease that allows it to not pay for unused space at 353 N. Clark St.
Its landlord, investment firm Heitman, alleged in May that Jenner defaulted after missing April and May rent for its 416,000-square-foot space, according to Crain’s. That rent totaled $3.9 million.
Jenner is arguing that the lease gives the law firm abatement to cover “any unforeseen event, such as a pandemic, which could result in Jenner & Block’s inability to use and occupy its space in the normal course of business,” and noted that 89 percent of its space cannot be used.
Jenner also said developer Richard Stein issued a statement that said the “current pandemic is the very type of disruptive event” that would trigger the clause. Per Crain’s, Jenner claims that Heitman owes the law firm overpaid rent, property taxes and operating expenses, as well as additional reimbursements from 2017 that total more than $1.4 million. After applying it to the 11 percent of space it should be paying for, Heitman owes Jenner $840,000, the law firm said.
Heitman claims Gov. J.B. Priztker’s order deemed legal services as essential business and must pay its rent. The investment firm bought the 1.2 million-square-foot tower in 2014 from Tishman Speyer for $715 million. [Crain’s] — James Kleimann