Vivid Seats Expands in West Loop

May 2014

Vivid Seats Ltd. is moving into a new headquarters in the West Loop in a deal that triples the total Chicago office space for the fast-growing online ticket marketplace.

Chicago-based Vivid Seats signed a long-term lease for about 31,000 square feet at 111 N. Canal St., where it will shift its headquarters from the Near West Side late this year, the company confirmed.

Vivid Seats also will remain in about 16,000 square feet in a loft building at 344 N. Ogden Ave., while the new headquarters lease includes an option to expand into the remaining 27,000 square feet on the eighth floor on Canal Street, said the company's broker, David Knight, vice president at Chicago-based Advocate Commercial Real Estate Advisors, LLC.

The lease accommodates explosive growth for Vivid Seats, a competitor of Stubhub Inc. The company said it has added more than 100 employees since last year, and the deal continues a string of new leases in the 96-year-old building since Chicago developer Sterling Bay Cos. bought it in December 2012 for $100 million.

“We've been fortunate to grow our staff size very rapidly, and we need more space for both our corporate and our operations team,” Vivid Seats co-founder Eric Vassilatos said in a statement. “We chose this building in part due to the building's large open floor plates, amenities and convenient location for public transportation, which will help us as we seek to add substantial new colleagues to our growing technology and digital marketing teams.”

91 PERCENT LEASED

After an almost total turnover of tenants in just 16 months, most of which are now technology-related, the 16-story, 860,000-square-foot tower is now about 91 percent leased, said Sterling Bay Vice President Chloe Reaumond.

Vivid Seats' lease continues one of the fastest transformations of a Chicago office building into a technology destination in recent memory, said tenant broker Robert Sevim, an executive managing director at New York-based Studley Inc., who was not involved in the deal.

“What you have is the halo effect,” Mr. Sevim said. “When a tech tenant goes into a building like that and creates cool, creative space and (another) tenant can see what they did, there's more of a visual cue. No. 2, Sterling Bay has created a brand. The minute the building went under contract, it became obvious to people that, OK, this is a building that's going to cater to a new generation of employees, it's going to have amenities it didn't previously have before, and it's already in a great location.”

'A LOT OF MOMENTUM'

Because of the rapid-fire changes in the building, once a warehouse for mail-order firm Butler Brothers Co., Sterling Bay recently took out a $185 million loan, a refinancing that signals the value of the property has more than doubled since it was acquired.

“The building has a lot of momentum right now,” Mr. Knight said. “A lot of the deals have been with technology companies, which made it attractive.”

Other 111 N. Canal tenants signed by Sterling Bay include in-flight wireless provider Gogo Inc., labor management software maker Fieldglass Inc. and social media behemoth Twitter Inc. Those deals total more than 300,000 square feet.

Vivid Seats, founded in 2001 by Mr. Vassilatos and former University of Iowa roommate Jerry Bednyak, is a secondary seller of tickets to sporting events, concerts and theater productions.

The firm made Crain's Fast Fifty list of fastest-growing companies following $65 million in revenue in 2011, a 1,103 percent increase over five years. The company, which had 45 employees at the time, declined to share more recent revenue figures but said it has more than doubled its employee count since last year, to more than 200.

Source:  Crain's Chicago