Consulting firm doubling space with move to Aon Center

June 2018

The owner of the Aon Center may have sold off the neighboring Prudential Plaza towers earlier this year, but it's hanging on to one of that property's fast-growing tenants.

Consulting firm Slalom leased 65,000 square feet on two floors at the Aon Center—more than double its current office space—and will move its Chicago office there early next year to accommodate its recent hiring binge, the company confirmed.

The Seattle-based business advisory firm, which said it has added more than 200 people to its Chicago team over the past two years and plans another 50 local hires in the months ahead, is moving to the city's third-tallest skyscraper after a decade at Two Prudential Plaza.

The new lease for the 37th and 38th floors at Aon Center is a win for New York-based 601W, which owned both trophy properties until it sold Prudential Plaza earlier this year to developer Sterling Bay.

With Slalom, the Aon Center will be 91 percent leased, according to Chicago brokerage Telos Group, which oversees leasing for the tower. That's better than the 87 percent average for downtown office properties at the end of the first quarter, according to data from real estate company CBRE.

Expansions like Slalom's are vital to the health of the downtown office market as it tries to absorb new buildings that have or are about to come online. Downtown office supply has been flooded over the past couple years with the completion of towers at 150 N. Riverside, 444 W. Lake St., 151 N. Franklin St. and 625 W. Adams St. The impending redevelopment of the Old Main Post Office will add another 2.5 million square feet to the market, though owner 601W recently inked a deal there for 200,000 square feet with Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Jumping from one high-profile East Loop tower to another across the street was meant to "update our home without moving out of the neighborhood," said Slalom General Manager Justin Odenbach.

Most of Slalom's 700 Chicago employees work locally with Chicago-based clients, which is why the company puts an extra premium on hospitality at its downtown office, Odenbach said. Slalom also was looking for consecutive floors instead of its current setup at Pru Plaza, where it has 28,000 square feet split between floors 51 and 53.

"Everything in the East Loop has become an important part of our culture," he said. "Aon (Center) was really able to meet our needs from a contiguous space and from a growth perspective."

Slalom adds to a run of new leases at Aon Center, which is undergoing a $25 million renovation. The tower recently lured insurance company Kemper to move its headquarters to 65,000 square feet on the 32nd and 33rd floors from its longtime home on Wacker Drive.

Insurance brokerage giant Aon is the Aon Center's biggest tenant, with more than 430,000 square feet, according to real estate information company CoStar Group. Other large tenants include accounting firm KPMG, Kraft Heinz and Jones Lang LaSalle.

601W also has its eye on making the tower a tourist destination with a proposed $185 million project to add external glass elevators leading up to an observatory.

Telos Group brokers Matt Pistorio, Steve Smith and Caroline Colnon represented 601W on the Slalom lease. David Knight of Advocate Real Estate Advisors represented Slalom.

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