Big Deals Keep on Movin’

Contrary to popular perceptions, significant CBD office leases are still being signed, recession or no recession.

A case in point is KPMG LLP’s recent inking of a 15-year lease for 260,000 SF in the Aon Center at 200 East Randolph Street in the prized East Loop market.  The accounting and advisory firm will relocate its 1,700 employees from 303 East Wacker Drive in August of 2012 when the lease takes effect.  The space on floors 53 through 61 will be vacant after law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP moves to its new tower at 300 North LaSalle Street later this year.  Considering that the downtown Chicago office market experienced 200,000 SF of negative absorption during the fourth quarter of 2008, this is encouraging news indeed.

Part of the story is that the East Loop office market has fared relatively well through the recession, and experienced 500,000 SF of positive absorption last year.  It’s currently an extremely affordable market, with asking lease rates in the Aon Center at about $20 per square foot net.