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601W Companies’ $185M Aon Center observation deck pitch earns blessing of key alderman

(Credit: Facebook via Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance)

An $185 million proposal by 601W Companies to retool the Aon Center with a carnival-like observation deck is set to be approved by Alderman Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd), the City Council’s key gatekeeper for Downtown development.

The New York-based developer submitted an application last month for the zoning change needed in order for its renovation to go forward, and the alderman signaled he will support it, according to Crain’s.

The revamp, proposed earlier this year, would add a pair of glassy external elevator shafts along the tower’s northwest corner, as well as a levered pod that would hoist adventurous tourists over the roof of the 83-story building.

601W Companies, which is also neck-deep in a $300 million gut rehab of the gargantuan Old Main Post Office, bought the Aon Center for $713 million in 2015. It refinanced the 1.75 million-square-foot office tower earlier this year with a $678 million loan from JPMorgan and Brookfield Asset Management.

Company leaders predicted the additions could pull an additional 2 million tourists each year to the tower at 200 East Randolph Street. Downtown property managers are increasingly reaching for ways to capitalize on the city’s record-smashing tourism.

In March, the Kemper Corporation moved its headquarters to the Aon Center with a 65,000-square-foot lease. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin

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