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OK sought for 22-story office building across from Old St. Pat's

Artist rendering of 625 West Adams.

A year after first issuing details of the project, developers are seeking city permission to erect an office building on the Near West Side near Old St. Patrick’s Church.

Plans as outlined in a zoning application with the city call for a 22-story building at 625 W. Adams, the southeast corner of Adams and Desplaines. The site is used for a parking lot and is kitty-corner from Old St. Pat’s at 700 W. Adams.

The church owns the parking lot and has signed a development agreement with Alter Group Ltd. and White Oak Realty Partners LLC, both based in Skokie.

The needs of Old St. Pat’s figure in the design. It calls for two levels for a community center and assembly space that the church can use for its outreach programs.

The building also would have a large allotment of parking – five levels for more than 400 cars – that would be available to parishioners on Sunday.

Its office space would be close to 500,000 square feet. The downtown area has not had new office space since 2010 when an addition was completed for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building at 300 E. Randolph.

The proposal comes amid tentative signs of a recovery in demand for offices. A report on the market by CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. showed that in the third quarter, downtown office vacancies were 14.3 percent, the lowest rate for the last seven quarters.

In hopes of better times, developers have begun teeing up properties for the next round of new construction. One site in competition with the Old St. Pat’s property is just a block away at 601 W. Monroe, where Fifield Cos. plans a similarly sized office building.

John Dempsey, senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis and the marketing agent for the Fifield space, said modestly scaled new construction appeals to tenants who want to customize their space and benefit from lower rents just beyond the traditional downtown.

“When the next wave of expansion hits, these properties will be a part of it,” Dempsey said.

Members of the development team declined to comment. The zoning application triggers hearings before city agencies and, if it passes muster there, a vote in the City Council.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz was the architectural firm hired for the design, which includes a green roof. A year ago, the developers estimated the cost of the building at more than $120 million.