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Salesforce makes it official: Tech giant will take 500k sf, naming rights at Wolf Point tower

Elizabeth Pinkham, Salesforce vice president of real estate, and a rendering of Salesforce Tower. (Credit: Salesforce)

San Francisco-based tech giant Salesforce brought mascots, a DJ and a birthday cake for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to its splashy announcement that it’s locked down a 500,000-square-foot lease and the naming rights to the 57-story Wolf Point South tower expected to be completed in 2023.

Rumors surfaced this summer that the software company was considering the site jutting into the Chicago River, where Hines Interests completed a 48-story apartment tower last year and is currently building a 60-story rental tower next door. But Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff made the news official late Thursday by tweeting a photo of the slender tower designed by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects.

Salesforce will occupy 22 floors inside the tower, as well as an “Ohana Floor” skydeck that would be an open space for company employees and customers. The lease would allow the company to double its existing employee base in the city, adding on to the 1,000 people who work in the company’s existing 111,000-square-foot office at 111 West Wacker Drive.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Salesforce will pay $475 million for the lease over a 17-year period.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the event Friday that he started to “hound Marc Benioff” at least two years ago, cajoling the CEO to expand his company’s presence in Chicago. Earlier this month, when Amazon announced it wouldn’t be expanding in Chicago, Emanuel teased “at least four” upcoming big-name corporate relocations as consolation prizes.

Former gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy, whose family owns the Wolf Point property amid a bundle of land around the 4.2-million-square-foot Merchandise Mart, also spoke at Friday’s event. Kennedy said Hines’ portfolio of more than a dozen towers in Downtown Chicago earns the Houston-based development firm the right to be called “Chicago-based Hines.”

Last year, Hines completed the 52-story River Point Tower at 444 West Lake Street, which hosted the announcement event Friday. Hines also developed the 61-story Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, now that city’s tallest tower.

River North has outpaced other parts of Downtown in office rent growth, in part because Merchandise Mart tech incubator 1871 has pulled hundreds of new tech startups into the neighborhood, according to a CBRE report.

But tech companies are racing to expand their footprints all over Downtown. The John Buck Company this year signed Facebook to a 263,000-square-foot lease in its recently completed CNA Center, and Google announced it would add another 132,000 square feet of office space alongside its 1K Fulton regional headquarters in Fulton Market.

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