AmTrust Realty to pump in $100M to spruce up Loop portfolio

Chicago office market recovery limited to buildings with amenities in popular locations

Jonathan Bennett, president, AmTrust Realty Corporation (AmTrust Realty Corporation, Chicago Landmarks, LoopNet, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Jonathan Bennett, president, AmTrust Realty Corporation (AmTrust Realty Corporation, Chicago Landmarks, LoopNet, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

A New York investor aims to spend $100 million to spruce up its Loop portfolio amid signs a rebound in Chicago’s office market is limited to buildings with amenities in popular locations.

AmTrust Realty Corporation said it plans to renovate seven buildings totaling six million square feet in the Central and East Loop, Crain’s reported. The firm will start with an almost 1 million-square-foot building at 30 North LaSalle, where less than 62 percent of the space is leased. Capital improvements are also planned for 33 West Monroe Street, two towers in the Illinois Center, One East Wacker Drive and 135 South LaSalle.

“Our goal for each building is to welcome tenants and employees back to the office with hospitality-driven upgrades to the lobby, while promoting collaboration and social gatherings through newly constructed lounges, common areas and conference facilities,” said AmTrust President Jonathan Bennett.

Chicago tenants are signing leases at buildings with updated amenities, especially in Fulton Market, while older buildings struggle.

Class A offices accounted for 80 percent of leases signed this year, according to JLL. In contrast to downtown office buildings suffering from high vacancies, Fulton Market completed 785,000 square feet of new space so far this year, making up about 30 percent of new construction in the past 12 months.

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AmTrust tried to unload the entire Loop portfolio for about $1.3 billion in May 2019 when demand was high for downtown office space. It failed to cash out and the buildings were hit hard during the pandemic.

Almost half of the building at 33 West Monroe Street is empty and less than 60 percent of Illinois Center is occupied, Crain’s reported, citing data collected by CoStar and Bloomberg.

AmTrust owns 12 million square feet of commercial real estate across the country including in New York and Ohio.

[Crain’s Chicago]