John Buck tests Loop waters with listing on LaSalle

Could bring early check on how Google’s plans for Thompson Center impact property values

John A. Buck II with 33 North LaSalle Street
John A. Buck II with 33 North LaSalle Street (Loopnet, Getty)

John Buck is looking to test the Loop’s office market ahead of Google moving into the neighborhood.

The veteran developer has hired JLL to market his 38-story office building at 33 North LaSalle Street, Crain’s reported. The 403,000-square-foot building is a little more than a block south of the James R. Thompson Center, which Google plans to buy.

John Buck’s building is the first major office building in the Loop to hit the market since Google announced its intentions to move into the city’s business district on July 27. The listing will be watched as a test of how strong of a pull Google has since many companies have been slowly filtering out of the Loop for trendier neighborhoods like Fulton Market and the West Loop.

While there is no asking price for the building at the corner of Washington and LaSalle streets, a venture of Buck bought the property when it was 40 percent vacant in 2014 for $32.8 million. After renovations and a 2017 refinancing leading to a $58.4 million mortgage, the building is now 75 percent leased.

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Despite the positive changes to the building, some people close to the property said they worry the building won’t fetch bids any higher than the debt owed on it. If that’s the case, John Buck could be put in the tough position of having a building worth less than the loan tied to it.

In a similar deal, a Mexican investor paid about $83 million — or about $170 per square foot — for the 28-story office building at 225 West Washington Street earlier this year. Another nearby building, at 100 North LaSalle Street, sold for $100 per square foot last fall. Those deals happened before Google announced plans to join the neighborhood, so it’s possible John Buck could get an even better deal.

Victoria Pruitt