The suburban office market is making a comeback

Turnkey space in greater Chicago area is attracting tenants

Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker and renderings of Bell Works Chicagoland
Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker and renderings of Bell Works Chicagoland

The great worker exodus of 2020 is providing hope to owners of office space in the Chicago suburbs.

“Suburbia is getting a fresh look,” Somerset Development’s Ralph Zucker told Crain’s. His company is repositioning the vacant former AT&T campus in Hoffman Estates into a $200 million mixed-use project with 1.2 million square feet of office space.

Though real estate brokers say it’s too soon to know whether the suburban office parks of yesteryear are truly back, inquiries are on the rise.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

And the kind of space that’s most in demand is pre-built and positioned to attract companies needing satellite space outside of downtown Chicago.

“Those employees are getting tired of working from home, but on the other hand the idea of hopping on the train and coming downtown may be something they don’t want to do right away,” said Michael Klein, managing principal of Chicago-based developer GlenStar, which has invested in large suburban office properties over the last few years.

The revival in suburban office spaces also comes down to a simple value proposition: talent recruitment led to a 75 percent premium on downtown space, but those numbers no longer add up, tenant rep Don Wenig told Crain’s. “I think business owners are going to be hard-pressed to justify paying for that real estate when they have geographic flexibility,” he said. [Crain’s] — James Kleimann