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October 24, 2019

Same Story, Different Day

By Jonathan Zimmerman

I have written in this blog space before how important it is for brokers to keep up on current events in the real estate industry. The truth is, it has never been easier to do so given the wide variety of resources available. Between Crain’s Chicago Business, Bisnow, GlobeSt, Connect CRE, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois Real Estate Journal, Real Deal, Curbed Chicago, Costar and QSR, it is difficult to miss much of anything these days. Since knowledge is power, this is generally a good thing.

As I peruse through these information sources on a daily basis, two things become evident. First, there has been and continues to be, a ton of activity in the marketplace. These past few years have been incredibly eventful and for this, we should all be grateful given the alternatives that might lie ahead in the future. Second, it seems like a lot of the news is essentially the same thing over and over again on a continuous loop. The names and addresses might change, but the general narrative remains constant. Honestly, it is starting to get just a bit tired.

As a public service to the writers and editors at the above-mentioned publications, here is a template that can be used for just about all articles for the immediate future:

• A new building is planned in Fulton Market on the corner of {insert address or intersection} to accommodate {insert company name} relocating its offices from {insert suburb}. {Insert company name} cited the ability to take advantage of Chicago’s vast and talented labor pool in a cutting-edge location as the primary reason for the move.

• {Insert Fortune 1000 company name} has signed a lease to relocate from {insert address of Class A or B building} to the Old Post Office. The building’s large floorplate and robust amenity package were mentioned as main selling points of the redeveloped property.

• WeWork is in turmoil and continuing to restructure internally, thereby concerning {insert building owner} about their long-term viability. Yet, {insert building owner} still inked a deal with the coworking behemoth for another 100,000 square foot lease at their {insert Class A building address} property.

• Co-working operator {insert name of any brand not named WeWork} is expanding its presence in Chicago at {insert address}.

• Real estate taxes on commercial properties are continuing to increase at record high levels in the City of Chicago and this is both depressing sales and investment activity and freaking out tenants who are contemplating signing new leases (Side note: this fact seems to be mentioned in EVERY Crain’s article about commercial real estate).

• A new controversy involving {insert topic} is surrounding Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards project and the public is outraged.

• Another tenant, {insert name}, just signed a lease at the Old Post Office. The building’s superior amenities yada, yada, yada…

Don’t get me wrong, these subjects are fascinating in their own right. However, perhaps we just need a few new topics thrown into the mix. History tells us that the narrative will likely change sooner rather than later. In due time, we will be reading about rising vacancy rates, more sublease space hitting the market, falling sales prices, rising unemployment and more Class C buildings being converted to hotels and apartments (granted this one will impact me more so than others). By then, we all will be yearning for the days of old.