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November 17, 2016

It’s Awfully Frosty Down There

By Jonathan Zimmerman

Just when we thought we had seen it all, 2016 happened. The only thing that may be more shocking than the Cubs winning the World Series is Donald Trump getting elected president. These events got me thinking: what could happen in the world of downtown Chicago real estate that could rival these events on a relative level? Here are a few crazy thoughts:

1) Sears unveils a new brick and mortar store concept that will be the wave of the future for shopping. As part of the ramped-up effort, they announce plans to lease the largest contiguous office vacancy in the Willis Tower in order to regain building naming rights.

2) Not to be outdone by McDonald’s announcement to lease 500,000 square feet in Fulton Market, Burger King’s owner, Restaurant Brands International, leases all of the 210 North Carpenter development planned by Sterling Bay. Can a lease with Wendy’s corporate office be far behind?

3) The Old Post Office building is finally leased….to the United States Postal Service. Snail mail is apparently making a comeback.

4) In a massive consolidation effort to save money, the City of Chicago announces plans to vacate City Hall and lease space in a nearby building. City Hall then sells for $300 per square foot to the Trump Organization, who announces plans to convert it into a luxury hotel.

5) The State of Illinois sells the Thompson Center to Steve Wynn, who states that he will convert the building into the largest casino in the country that features a hotel and concert hall.

6) The era of consolidation continues in the real estate industry as CBRE and JLL express intent to merge their operations and create the largest commercial real estate firm on Earth. In similar news, Cushman & Wakefield announces plans to acquire Colliers, Avison Young and Savills Studley.

7) The Chicago Board of Trade shuts down and vacates their trading floors. WeWork immediately leases all of the space.

8) The Fordham Spire site is developed into the largest underground data center in the world.

9) Macy’s announces that it will close down its legendary State Street store. In a stunning about-face, George Lucas declares that he will bring the Lucas Museum to the space.

10) Documented evidence turns up of several lease deals being completed with no negotiating whatsoever.