Office tenants in the newly revamped Fifth Street Towers won’t even have to leave the skyway level to meet clients for happy hour.
Capping a multimillion-dollar renovation that took a year, Fifth Street Towers had its grand opening Tuesday and introduced the Sphere kitchen and bar on its second floor, one on a long list of amenities building developers have added to help breathe life back into the two-tower complex.
“We are just trying to rebrand and reposition the property to appeal to a wider variety of tenants,” said Reed Christianson, a principal at Transwestern, who is part of the leasing team for Fifth Street.
Sphere takes its name from its skylit circular bar and its operator, Hemisphere Restaurant Partners, which also owns the Tavern Grill, Mission American Kitchen & Bar and Good to Go.
The cocktail and small plates bar, said to be the first of its kind in the skyway, will offer drinks from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the nearby kitchen will function as a “daytime grab-and-go restaurant featuring kebabs, fresh vegetables, salads and side options,” according to Hemisphere’s website.
The purpose of the renovation was to bring the Fifth Street Towers into a new era, Christianson said. The towers, which rise 25 and 36 stories tall, were built in 1984 and 1988. After a $2 million renovation in 2013, they still looked like they were stuck in the 1980s.
The large lobby used to be dominated by red granite and brass. With the renovation, the walls are wrapped by panels of wood with strips of lights.
The buildings, which are owned by Zeller Realty Group and an entity associated with the California-based PIMCO investment firm, also had their amenities centralized onto the third floor.
There is a new conference center, gym and lounge along with a rooftop deck. The wellness center has rooms for mothers who are nursing as well as space-age-like “nap pods.”
The old fitness center on the first floor was converted into a brightly colored bike hub, with bike parking, a repair shop and locker rooms for cyclists.
There were talks to build a “super floor” connection between the two towers for adventurous tenants but the plans never materialized.
Shea Design and ESG Architects, both of Minneapolis, and the Chicago office of Perkins and Will led the remodeling effort.
Before the renovation, the towers had a 70 percent occupancy rate. That didn’t count long-term tenant law firm Stinson Leonard Street, which is moving out soon to a new office at the Fifty South Sixth building.
Several new leases at Fifth Street that have recently been signed include Northland Securities, which will take 32,000 square feet, tax and advisory firm KPMG, which will take 6,000 square feet, and the Messerli & Kramer law firm, which will expand its footprint by about 4,000 square feet to take up a little less than 35,000 square feet. Other tenants are on deck for another 60,000 square feet of space.
Christianson and Erin Wendorf of Transwestern are responsible for leasing at Fifth Street with Chicago-based real estate consultant the Telos Group LLC, which provided strategic services.
The same team also spearheaded the recent redevelopment of Washington Square.