Irvine backfilling River North tower’s huge hole with law firm’s downsize

Winston & Strawn’s move echoes pandemic-era trend of slashing office space

300 North LaSalle Street and Tom Fitzgerald with Winston & Strawn
300 North LaSalle Street and Tom Fitzgerald with Winston & Strawn (Google Maps, Winston & Strawn)

Irvine Company has mostly filled one massive hole left by a tenant’s departure from a River North skyscraper, leaving it just one more still to address.

Law firm Winston & Strawn is close to finalizing a deal for 150,000 square feet in the 60-story office tower at 300 North LaSalle Street, which would fill most of the space Boston Consulting Group exited for a new office building under construction in Fulton Market, Crain’s reported.

The law firm is downsizing with the move, leaving behind a 257,000-square-foot space it leases at 35 West Wacker Drive. The firm was one of the original tenants in the building when it was completed in 1989. Wilson & Strawn’s lease, which it extended in 2016, runs through 2027 and it’s not yet known what the firm will do with the remainder of its lease.

While the deal hasn’t been finalized yet, it would follow the recent trend of companies shedding space as remote or hybrid work models have remained popular even after the pandemic slowed down. It has pushed the amount of available office space in the central business district up to a record high of 21.4 percent at the beginning of the year.

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The deal would be a win for California-based Irvine, which owns the 1.3 million-square-foot LaSalle Street tower and has lost its two largest tenants, BCG and Kirkland & Ellis, the largest law firm in Chicago that is moving into Salesforce Tower to the west along the river.

Irvine bought the 60-story LaSalle Street tower in 2014 for $850 million, which was the most ever paid for a Chicago office building at the time. The property generated almost $10 million in net operating income in 2021, loan data cited by the outlet shows.

The move will also be a loss for Shaya Prager’s Opal Holdings, which paid $415 million amid the pandemic to buy the Leo Burnett Building on Wacker that Wilson & Strawn is vacating.

With 265 local attorneys, Winston & Strawn was the fourth-largest law firm in Chicago as of last June.

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