The Real Deal Chicago

Downtown offices key to landing tech talent, employers say

Suburban companies are increasingly moving to the city to attract high-skilled workers
June 21, 2018 04:00PM

Google Chicago HQ, entrance sign to the Fulton Market district (Credit: Edsel Little, Seth Anderson, and State Farm via Flickr)

Maintaining downtown offices might be the key to attracting top talent for suburban-based companies facing a tightening labor pool.

The hunt for skilled tech employees was part of what motivated Walgreens to join the 2.8-million-square-foot Old Main Post Office redevelopment as its first major tenant, an executive told the Chicago Tribune.

Downtown offices were also “one of the major selling factors” for Daniel Henry, who became McDonalds’ executive vice president and global chief information officer last year, he told the newspaper. The global restaurant chain finalized its corporate relocation to Fulton Market from suburban Oak Brook earlier this year.

Companies with suburban headquarters like Caterpillar, Sears Holding Corp. and Allstate have all launched satellite offices Downtown as a way to interest a younger demographic of employees who have increasingly moved back into the city.

Demand for Downtown office space has risen sharply this decade, jumping from an average of $31.69 per square foot in 2010 to $39.41 this year, according to commercial real estate firm CBRE.

McDonald’s and Google’s new corporate offices in Fulton Market have inspired hundreds of millions of dollars in office development in the West Loop, as other businesses look to follow their lead.

Last month, Shapack Partners leased furniture manufacturer Knoll to three floors inside the developer’s new 70,000-square-foot office building at 811 West Fulton Street.

And more recently, Mark Goodman & Associates unveiled a proposal for a 12-story office building around the corner from the Google and McDonald’s offices.

And prolific Fulton Market Developer Sterling Bay plans 1.7 million square feet of new office space in four new buildings on Green and Morgan Streets.

Chicago remains in the running for Amazon’s HQ2, which could bring up to 50,000 high-skilled tech jobs wherever it lands. Mayor Rahm Emanuel stirred the city’s business community on Monday when he told reporters that Amazon executives “really like” two of the five Chicago sites they toured this year. [Chicago Tribune] — Alex Nitkin