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Speculative West Loop Office Tower Prepares to Break Ground

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The building's developers are gambling on Chicago's strong downtown office market

Despite receiving approvals back in 2012, a new 20-story West Loop office tower slated for 625 W Adams is preparing to finally break ground, replacing a surface parking lot owned by Old St. Patrick’s Church. Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, the 432,000-square-foot building will feature a two-story lobby, ground floor retail, five levels of parking, outdoor terraces for tenants, and an event area reserved for the neighboring church to replace its lost space. According to a report by Crain’s, the building will open for business in the first quarter of 2018.

While most large-scale commercial projects must typically land tenants before beginning construction, development partners White Oak Realty and CA Ventures are betting on continued office demand as they plan to build 625 W Adams entirely on speculation. Due to the building's relatively medium size, the risk is not as severe as that facing 590 W Madison — a nearby 40-story hotel/office project on hold until tenants can be secured.

The fact that commercial developers are taking risks to beat competitors to market bodes well for Chicago’s downtown, which is enjoying a 15-year low in office vacancy rates. Though that number will likely climb as River Point, 151 N Riverside, and the new CNA Center come online and poach tenants from existing buildings, things nonetheless appear healthy for the short term. If the market stays in a position of strength, other downtown office projects — like the 1.2 million-square-foot proposal at 130 N Franklin — might break ground sooner than anticipated.