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Salesforce considering Chicago expansion with huge lease at Wolf Point South

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The tech company’s interest could fast-track construction on the riverfront office tower

Wolf Point South (pictured center) represents the tallest and final phase of Chicago’s three-tower Wolf Point megadevelopment.
Rendering by Steelblue

San Francisco-based software and cloud computing giant Salesforce could be the catalyst needed to jump-start construction on Chicago’s massive Wolf Point South skyscraper. According to a recent report by Crain’s, the company is looking to bring 5,000 more jobs to Chicago and lease 500,000 square feet in the unbuilt waterfront high-rise.

Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, the south tower is the third and final phase of the three-building Wolf Point megaproject under construction at the confluence of the Chicago River’s north, south, and main branches. Developers Hines Interests and Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises completed the 485-foot west tower in 2016 and are on-track to deliver the 660-foot Wolf Point East building in late 2019.

Wolf Point West (left), South (center), and East (right).
Rendering by Steelblue

Unlike its all-residential siblings, Wolf Point South is expected to include a mix of office space, hotel rooms, and dwelling units. Before work can begin, however, the southern skyscraper will need to go back to the city for final zoning approval. Placeholder documents peg the skyline-changing tower at 950 feet tall, but that figure may change as the design continues to evolve over time.

Beyond zoning, the deal faces additional regulatory hurdles, according to Wednesday’s report by Crain’s. Sources claim that Salesforce is negotiating with city officials for prominent riverfront signage. Such a move would require City Hall to make an exception to a size-limiting ordinance adopted after Trump Tower tacked on its oversized—and universally unloved—exterior lettering back in 2014.

The article also mentions that the tech company is seeking a sizable property tax break, exclusive (albeit part-time) use of the development’s otherwise public riverwalk, and the installation a highly-visible riverfront “video wall.”

Provided these issues can be resolved and a deal between developer, tenant, and City Hall reached, Salesforce would like to see the new tower open before the lease at its existing River North offices at 111 W. Illinois Street expires in 2023. That current location houses the majority of the company’s roughly 1000-person Chicago workforce.

Could the blue “Salesforce” cloud logo find a future home atop the crown of Wolf Point South?
Rendering by Steelblue

In addition to bolstering Chicago’s growing reputation as a technology hub, the potential Saleforce lease at Wolf Point further signals the important role played by the river in new commercial development. Notable examples include 2017’s 150 N. Riverside tower as well as the Bank of America-anchored high-rise under construction at 110 N. Wacker.

A pair of sprawling mixed-use megaprojects known as Lincoln Yards and The 78 are also respectively slated for the river’s north and south branches. Both proposed waterfront campuses are vying to land the biggest prize in tech: Amazon’s highly coveted HQ2. The e-commerce giant is expected to announce its winner out of 20 finalist cities some time this year.