When San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties purchased One Oxford Centre for almost $150 million last January, talk of upgrades centered around pragmatic improvements to bring the 34-year-old building into the 21st century: renovating the atrium, installing new elevators and removing some of the escalators that gave the feel of a shopping mall rather than a top flight office building.

Now comes the fun part: Shorenstein has partnered with $1.4 billion food and vending organization Eurest to bring a food hall, Oxford Market, into One Oxford Centre’s plaza.

“The food hall trend is very popular all over the US,” says Chris Caltabiano, senior vice president, asset management at Shorenstein. “All of your gateway cities have these really cool food halls and they become meeting places whether you’re a resident or a tenant in the building or if you work across the street.”

Essentially a food court with outside vendors selling fresh and prepared food (think of the shuttered Pittsburgh Public Market), food halls like Eataly in NYC and Grand Central Market in LA have become tourist destinations in their own right.

“A variety of cuisine is very important to customers right now, especially millennials,” says Ken MacIntyre, regional VP at Eurest Dining. “This provides a really nice environment where you can get a variety of restaurants and menu offerings all in one place.”

MacIntyre stresses that it is too early to say which tenants will make up the market but that they are “looking for a nice balance” of cuisines, from local, regional and national brands, so that different vendors won’t be in direct competition with one another. Existing food retailers Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Sushi & Rolls are expected to remain.

Create Exhibition. Photo courtesy Lola Red PR.

One part of the food hall that is for certain is the Create Exhibition, a venue that will have rotating specials, wine tastings and cooking demonstrations from local and celebrity chefs.

Oxford Market is expected to open this summer. For now, the most visible part of Shorenstein’s planned $50 million upgrade to One Oxford Centre is new LED lighting that allows the top of the building to be lit up in different colors for special events and holidays at the push of a button.

“This is a trophy-caliber office building,” says Caltabiano. “We wanted [Oxford Market] to be a great amenity for the building. There are limited food options if you’re an office worker in this part of town. It’s really something the market demanded.”

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.