Fast-growing insurance firm subleases 20K sf in Merchandise Mart

Most of Kin’s 800 employees work from home

Insurance Tech Firm Kin Subleases 20K sf in Chicago
Kin Insurance's Sean Harper with Merchandise Mart (Kin Insurance, Google Maps, Getty)

One of Chicago’s fastest-growing companies just chipped away at the glut of sublease space in Chicago’s Near North Side.

Kin Insurance has subleased 20,000 square feet on the ninth floor of the iconic Merchandise Mart from online consumer lender Avant, Crain’s reported. The insurance tech company will move later this year from the 11,000-square-foot space it’s been subleasing on the building’s second floor.

CBRE brokers Brad Serot and Tyler Reaumond represented Avant in lease negotiations, while CBRE’s Tony Coglianese represented Kin. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

The expansion reflects a shift in how fast-growing tech firms are impacting the downtown office market. Despite significant growth, companies like Kin are not leasing large office spaces as they might have before the pandemic.

Many Chicago office users are opting for smaller spaces to accommodate hybrid- and remote-work models, in light of evolving workforce needs stemming from the pandemic. 

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Kin’s Chicago office is used primarily for team meetings, with employees working from home most of the time. The new office will provide space for larger meetings and additional working areas.

Chicago’s office vacancy rate topped 25 percent for the first time ever in the first quarter, according to JLL. Remote-work trends have been the driving force behind soaring office vacancies, as companies continue to shrink their footprints or put space on the sublease market. 

Kin’s revenue has surged by more than 9,500 percent in the past five years, reaching nearly $105 million in 2023. Kin’s workforce has expanded from 60 employees in 2019 to nearly 800, with about half based in the Chicago area, said Kin CEO Sean Harper. 

Avant doubled its downtown footprint two years ago but found it no longer needed all 80,000 square feet in the Merchandise Mart. Avant’s space in the building was designed specifically for its “hybrid working environment with Chicago-based employees in the office three days a week,” COO Margaret Hermes told the outlet.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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