Willis Tower getting its first food hall

September 6, 2018

Crain's Chicago Business

By: Danny Ecker

Willis Tower is adding a food hall to the list of new amenities it is packing in under a massive renovation of the city's tallest skyscraper.

The owner of the 110-story building has struck a deal with food hall and pop-up market company Urbanspace to open a location in the new retail space under construction at the base of the tower, the company confirmed.

Urbanspace, which operates two food halls in Manhattan, will open its first U.S. location outside of New York in the 300,000 square foot addition that private equity giant and Willis Tower owner Blackstone Group is building around the skyscraper’s lower floors.

That addition will be one of the most visible pieces of a broader $668 millioninvestment Blackstone is making in the tower to overhaul it with upgrades like a new fitness center, tenant lounges, remodeled elevators and possibly a revamped Skydeck attraction.

“As a leading food hall operator, Urbanspace is pleased to be joining the Willis Tower,” said Urbanspace President Eldon Scott in a statement. “The redevelopment creates the perfect setting for Urbanspace to establish an immersive public market where creativity and community can flourish.”Willis Tower will join a crowded bandwagon of downtown office buildings embracing food halls, which have gained popularity as both valuable retail tenants and attractive amenities to office users.

Chicago has seen a rush of the multivendor food markets in operation or planned, including Revival Food Hall that opened in 2016 in the Loop and Wells St. Market, which debuted in June at 205 W. Wacker Drive.

Others in the works include a 50,000 square foot food hall in the Fulton Market District from media company Time Out Group and a St. Roch Market food hall on the ground floor of the new McDonald's headquarters in the West Loop. Restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff is set to open a new Mag Mile food hall, dubbed Aster Hall Chicago, later this year at 900 N. Michigan Ave.

Urbanspace will join a mix of retail tenants in the Willis Tower addition that so far includes burger chain Shake Shack and New York-based meeting and event space provider Convene. The tower's broader revamp has been a selling point for landlords nearby hunt for tenants or looking to cash out on their properties.

Urbanspace's New York City food halls are next to Grand Central Terminal and the General Electric Building at 570 Lexington Ave.