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McDonald's Confirms Move To 'World-Class Environment' In West Loop

By Stephanie Lulay | June 13, 2016 11:46am
 Oprah's Harpo Studios put the West Loop on the map, but Google could make the neighborhood Chicago's technology/ foodie hub.
Oprah's Harpo Studios put the West Loop on the map, but Google could make the neighborhood Chicago's technology/ foodie hub.
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DNAinfo/ Mark Konkol

WEST LOOP — It's official: McDonald's golden arches will soon be calling the West Loop home. 

One of the world's largest fast food chains, McDonald's will move to the former Harpo Studios campus at 1045 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop, a McDonald's representative confirmed Monday morning. The company is expected to relocate its headquarters by spring 2018. 

In a statement, McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said the move to Chicago will help the company "build a better McDonald's." The move marks McDonald's return to Chicago, where the company was headquartered from 1955 to 1971. 

"This world-class environment will continue to drive business momentum by getting us even closer to customers, encouraging innovation and ensuring great talent is excited about where they work," Easterbrook said. 

In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed the company back to Chicago. 

"McDonald's has identified the keys to success to today's global market, talent, technology, and access to transportation networks, and they recognize these as Chicago's strengths," Emanuel said. "I'm proud to welcome them to our dynamic city."

Earlier this month,Crain's Chicago first reported that McDonald's was in advanced negotiations with developer Sterling Bay to move its headquarters to a new building the developer plans to build on Randolph Street at the site of the former Harpo Studios in Fulton Market. McDonald's is likely to be leasing more than 300,000 square feet of space in the building, according to the report. 

A Sterling Bay spokeswoman has not responded to requests for comment. 

Renderings leaked in June 2015 show the largest studio building on the Harpo campus would be demolished. On Randolph Street, the renderings show a large retail or restaurant area being developed with office space. 

McDonald's corporate employees are now located at a campus in suburban Oak Brook. The company was poised to take over 350,000-square-feet at One Prudential Plaza downtown last year before backing out of the deal, according to Crain's Chicago, and also has office space in River North.  

Harpo Studios announced in March 2015 that Winfrey would not renew the lease on the lot, meaning the longtime home of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and many other TV shows would leave the site.

Harpo's move from Chicago to a new state-of-the-art studio in West Hollywood comes after the OWN Network relocated to The Lot in California.

Oprah's — and Harpo's — move from Chicago began when Winfrey filmed her last episodes of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2011. The set subsequently housed "The Rosie Show," hosted by Rosie O'Donnell, for less than a year.

In March 2014, Winfrey announced she had sold Harpo Studios to West Loop-based developer Sterling Bay for $32 million.

At the time of the sale, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said the studio helped put the once-gritty West Loop "on the map."

Iconic signs that hung from the Harpo Studios building were removed in January. The studio closed for good in December 2015.

Before it became home to Winfrey's studio in 1988, the largest building on the Harpo campus was formerly a cold storage warehouse, a temporary morgue, an armory and a roller skating rink, according to the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

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