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McDermott Will & Emery to lease space at 444 W. Lake

Rending River Point Sculptural officer tower Downtown's West loop overlooking Chicago River  444 W. Lake Wednesday May 16 2012.

Rending of River Point, a Sculptural officer tower in Downtown's West loop overlooking the Chicago River at 444 W. Lake, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: February 19, 2013 2:57PM

The law firm McDermott Will & Emery has agreed to lease 225,000 square feet in a new downtown office building planned for 444 W. Lake, at the northeast corner of Lake and Canal.

The venture of Hines Interests LP, landowner Larry Levy and investment firm Ivanhoe Cambridge would be downtown’s first new office structure since 2010.

The international law firm currently leases its Chicago space at 227 W. Monroe, the tower known as Franklin Center.

While the new 45-story office building, to be called River Point, is expected to be finished in early 2016, McDermott said it will move beginning in the spring of 2017.

“Our lawyers, staff and clients will be inspired by the building’s unique design and unmatched views of the greater Chicago area,” said Jeffrey Stone, co-chair of the firm. “We’re delighted to build upon our 80-year history in Chicago with this bold move into the future.”

McDermott signed a letter of intent to be an anchor tenant in the building. The firm said the lease will entitle it to “noteworthy signage” identifying its presence.

An official ground-breaking of River Point featuring Mayor Rahm Emanuel was held Tuesday.

McDermott is the first tenant known to be taking space in the project, which was announced last year as a “speculative” office building, or one being built without leases already in place.

The construction moved forward because of Ivanhoe Cambridge’s $300 million investment in the deal. After the financial crisis of 2008, Hines and Levy couldn’t build the tower even when they had a deal for an anchor tenant.

The building is expected to generate 1,000 union construction jobs, 3,400 permanent office jobs and a 1.5-acre riverfront park for the public.

The park is in line for a $29.5 million public subsidy from tax-increment financing.

Colliers International negotiated the agreement for McDermott.

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