303 East WackerLighting up an underperforming gem
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- Investment Vehicle
- BCSP 8
- 944,000 sq ft
Discovering an underperforming gem
In the East Loop area of Chicago stands a 30-story building that was originally designed by modernist Joseph Fujikawa in 1979. Once an ambitious landmark designed with sleek architectural sensibility, the building had lost some of its original luster with clutter and neglect. As a result, when we acquired it in 2018, it had underperformed the market for 10 straight years with an average of 40% vacancy. Our challenge: to strip back the additions that had been made over time and reimagine the building as a modern place to work and gather.
Starting at the top
To restore this 303 East Wacker to its former vision, we led a $35 million renovation that transformed the building from the inside out—with a bright, airy lobby, refreshed corridors, unique community spaces, and a striking new 30th floor. Here are the highlights:
Transformed the top level from windowless storage into a premier tenant lounge and state-of-the-art fitness center. This undertaking was no small feat—we raised three elevators and added 130 floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto sweeping views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, and the bustling city below.
Pared back the lobby to reflect the original Fujikawa architecture, a bright, minimal aesthetic. We removed the outdated, oversized fish tank and rehomed the fish to a local aquarium, replacing it with a 26-foot media wall that casts a captivating glow over the building entry.
Installed the Luminary, a central bar-in-the-round inspired by the famed Four Seasons bar in New York. Flanked by twin chandeliers with 64 suspended lights, the Luminary doubles as a coffee bar during the day and wine bar at night.
Lit up the building exterior by running a zipper light up the front of the building. This instantly recognizable installation sets it apart from its neighbors and makes it visible for miles around.
Over the course of this project, we turned an underperforming gem into an eye-catching icon. And the transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2021, we leased 93,000 square feet to ten companies, raising occupancy to 85%. In the process, we signed a 12-year lease with renowned global manufacturer James Hardie—Chicago’s largest deal to start and close during the pandemic.