Chicago Suburbs Luring Back Major Employers

As more workers move away from the central city due to high costs and remote work opportunities, companies that once relocated downtown are eyeing Chicago’s suburbs once again.

April 15, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Chicago’s suburbs could be having a renaissance, writes Katharine Conlon. “From food giant Hillshire Brands to Motorola Solutions and in-flight WiFi provider Gogo, the past decade has brought a spate of relocations from the suburbs into the city, with the past two years of remote work pushing suburban office vacancy even higher, to a record 27% at the end of last year, according to JLL data.” Thanks to new work patterns spurred by the pandemic and rising downtown housing costs, however, the Chicago suburbs are seemingly making a comeback.

The traditional suburban form is changing, too. “Wendy Spreenberg, founder and president of YES! Your Exceptional Space, said Chicago suburbs are embracing the 15-minute city concept that emphasizes a decentralized local economy in which all necessary amenities are within a short walk, bike ride or public transit trip.”

As the article notes, “Some formerly downtown-only companies have already begun dipping their toes into suburban waters as workers begin transitioning back to the office, if only on a hybrid basis.” 

According to Core Acquisitions Managing Principal Adam Firsel, “How the suburban market will shake out and how the new hybrid work landscape will impact decisions about location and footprints are open questions.” For now, “companies [are] still reluctant to commit to long-term leases or set square footage requirements.”

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