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The Haymarket Building

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Willard Jones Real Estate recently welcomed The Haymarket Building, located at 117 North Jefferson Street, into its leasing portfolio and has been tasked with returning this West Loop gem back to full occupancy. The new owners have some exciting plans for future upgrades and we are ecstatic to be part of this project.

Most local real estate brokers who have been in the industry for a while likely associate 117 North Jefferson with a prior owner, Mr. Henry Latkin. For over 40 years, Henry owned, managed, leased, entertained and even resided here. While his style might have been viewed by some as eclectic, you have to respect and admire an individual with that kind of staying power who enjoyed himself so much in the process. Being an avid and courageous world traveler, Henry accumulated quite a collection of art from all sorts of exotic places around the globe including Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many of these items were prominently displayed around the building. He was one of the first downtown owners to develop a rooftop deck. Outfitted with sculptures, trees and a full-blown garden, this was often used for hosting parties and special events. Henry even ran a small bed and breakfast on the rooftop level and many brokers were awarded a free night or two as a thank you for completing a deal in the property.

Whenever we take over a new leasing assignment, one of our first tasks is to develop an appropriate marketing program. Given this property is known as the Haymarket Building, it seemed like a no brainer on the surface to work with that somehow. However, as you dive deeper into the history involved with this name, it becomes a much more complicated decision.

The challenge, in this case, is how to strike a respectful tone which acknowledges the loss of life while commemorating the significance of the event itself and what it eventually laid the groundwork for. Taken literally, the Haymarket was essentially a large farmers market that serviced a West Loop neighborhood which at that time was heavily populated by working-class families and factory workers making low wages and struggling to get by.  Over time, it morphed into a town square and popular gathering place for these individuals.  Following an incident at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company plant in May 1886 where Chicago police officers killed two protesters and wounded several others who lived in the neighborhood, a peaceful rally was planned for the following night at Haymarket Square (Randolph Street between Lake Street, Des Plaines and the modern-day Expressway). Once the police arrived to keep order, an anonymous person threw a stick of dynamite killing several police offices and a massive riot erupted. While this was a very significant moment in the American labor movement, it also led to a series of trials which concluded with questionable convictions and public hangings for some people that might have been innocent.

By all accounts, the Haymarket Building was named more so for the neighborhood rather than the event and this is what we have decided to focus on.  The farmers market was generally regarded as a place of happiness for the workers by all accounts.  The riot was a huge moment in American history and deserves to be remembered, but not celebrated. Our ultimate synopsis can be summed up with the following statement: Sitting on a historically significant land site in Chicago’s West Loop, the Haymarket Building at 117 North Jefferson pays tribute to those working class individuals who used to congregate at the nearby Haymarket Square farmers market in the 1880’s, as well as those permanently impacted by the Haymarket Affair that sent shock waves around the world and served as the catalyst for the American labor movement.

Once historical perspectives are properly dealt with, we can then turn our attention to all of the amazing attributes that 117 North Jefferson has to offer, such as exposed brick walls, high timber lofted ceilings, great natural light, efficient floor plates and a committed and service-oriented ownership group. The building also possesses one of the best locations in the West Loop, close to Ogilvie Transportation Center, Union Station and just a few blocks from Fulton Market (and at much lower prices to boot).

Tenants and brokers, we hope you will give The Haymarket Building at 117 North Jefferson a close look if you or your clients are in the market for office space at a historically noteworthy location. We think you will be pleased with what you see.

The 2018 Top Ten Events in Downtown Chicago Commercial Real Estate

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Amazingly, another year has flown by.  As 2018 comes to a close, it is time to look back on the year that was in downtown Chicago commercial real estate.  While activity has generally held steady, there are some subtle signs that the market is slowing.  Nevertheless, it was an interesting and active time with many notable storylines that could end up shaping the future of our city.  Let’s now review the past 12 months with my top 10 list of events:

10.  Motor Row, Start Your Engines! – Led by former Chicago Bears Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers’ planned redevelopment of 2222 South Michigan, along with the opening of several hotels, restaurants and live performance venues, Motor Row is finally starting to realize its vast potential. While there is still quite a bit of work to do, it is now not too hard to see the grand vision for this South Loop neighborhood coming alive at long last.

9.  Bear Down, Wacker Drive – Speaking of the newly crowned NFC North Division Champions, the Chicago Bears opened an 11,000 square foot office at 123 North Wacker Drive.  This is quite a significant deal for a prominent building undergoing a revitalization after a down period. The staff of 35 employees relocated from Soldier Field in order to free up space for more conferencing and special events at the renowned stadium.

8. The Gamble Pays Off– After rolling the dice and constructing a new high-rise on speculation with no anchor tenant, CA Office and White Oak Realty Partners’ gamble paid off nicely, as CDW inked a lease at 625 W. Adams St. for approximately 300,000 square feet. This brings the property all the way up to 68% leased.

7.  Googleville – Let’s face it, if not for Google’s decision back in 2015 to relocate their Midwest headquarters to 1000 West Fulton Market, Fulton Market would not be what it is today. Not only did Google fill up the rest of the available space in this building, they also leased an additional 132,000 square feet at soon-to-be completed 210 North Carpenter, firmly establishing themselves as the anchor of this dynamic neighborhood.

6.  Facebook Likes Chicago – Facebook’s expansion into 263,000 square feet at the newly constructed CNA Tower at 151 North Franklin is yet another example of how Chicago is gradually growing into a national tech powerhouse.

5.  The Old Post Office Delivers – Walgreens and Ferrara Candy Company became the first tenants to commit to the Old Post Office. While only accounting for approximately 10% of this massive 2.8 million square foot structure, these leases, in conjunction with the many upgrades planned to this showcase structure, promise to serve as a catalyst for future success.

4.  Stretch Those Boundaries – Lincoln Yards, The 78 in the South Loop, the Burnham Lakefront at the former Michael Reese Hospital site, and the River District at the Chicago Tribune printing plant location all represent momentous efforts by developers to expand the outer borders of the downtown market. While major questions remain on who exactly will occupy the space and how to get people to and from these places, it does create a new layer of competition for the traditional downtown areas.

3. Co-working More and More – From WeWork’s seemingly endless expansion, to growth by competitors such as Convene, Industrious, Spaces and several new entrants into the Chicago market, co-working is showing no signs at all of slowing down.

2. The Development Never Ends – The planned construction of Salesforce Tower Chicago at Wolf Point and BMO Tower at Union Station pile onto this extended development cycle. While the skyline will gain some beautiful new edifices anchored by top-notch tenants, more vacant space will be added to the market in not just these new properties but also in the buildings where these tenants are relocating from. Might this be the beginning of the end for this expansive market?

1. Amazon Snubs Chicago – Chicago made an admirable run and allegedly finished in the top 5, but ultimately fell just short as Crystal City, Va, Long Island, NY and Nashville, TN, ended up splitting the grand prize. While the pros outweighed the cons, on the bright side, we no longer have to hear about this story every 10 minutes. There you have it. In my next blog, I’ll let you know what I predict to be in store for 2019. Happy Holidays, everyone!

The Best of Chicago for 2018

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It is officially the season of giving and Willard Jones Real Estate is here to help.  To contribute to your holiday fun, we hereby present the first annual (possibly) Willard Jones Real Estate Best of Chicago Awards for 2018.  Apologies in advance to anyone we may have missed or offended.  The only ground rule is that the winner must do business in the City of Chicago.  Without further ado, away we go.


Best Deep-Dish Pizza: Lou Malnati’s (multiple locations); runner-up: Pequod’s (2207 N Clybourn)

Best Thin Crust Pizza: Martino’s (3431 W Peterson); runner-up: Pete’s Pizza (3737 N Western)

Best Hot Dog: Superdawg Drive-In (6363 N Milwaukee); runner­­-up: Downtown Dogs (804 N Rush)

Best Italian Beef: Mr. Beef (666 N Orleans); runner-up: Al’s Beef (1079 W Taylor)

Best Cheeseburger: Twisted Spoke (501 N Ogden); runner-up: Au Cheval (800 W Randolph)

Best Corned Beef Sandwich: Manny’s (1141 S Jefferson); runner-up: Eleven City Diner (1112 S Wabash)

Best Ice Cream: Chocolate Shoppe (5337 W Devon); runner-up: Margie’s Candies (1960 N Western)

Best Gyro: Nick’s Drive-In (7216 N Harlem); runner-up: Hub’s (5540 N Lincoln)

Best Ribs: Gale Street Inn (4914 N Milwaukee); runner-up: Twin Anchors (1655 N Sedgwick)

Best Steak: Prime & Provisions (222 N LaSalle); runner-up: Chicago Chop House (60 W Ontario)



Best Italian Restaurant: Zia’s Trattoria (6699 N Northwest Hwy); runner-up: Tufano’s (1073 W Vernon Park)

Best Mexican Restaurant: El Cid (2645 N Kedzie), runner-up: Cafe El Tapatio (3400 N Ashland)

Best Mediterranean Restaurant: Naf Naf Grill (multiple locations); runner-up: Old Jerusalem (1411 N Wells)

Best Asian Restaurant: Sunda (110 W Illinois); runner-up: Joy Yee (2139 S China Place)

Best Deli: Tony’s Italian Deli & Subs (6708 N Northwest Hwy); runner-up: Fumare Meats (131 N Clinton)

Most Romantic Restaurant: Tango Sur (3763 N Southport); runner-up: Geja’s Café (340 W Armitage)

Best Brunch: Gather (4539 N Lincoln); runner-up: Lula Café (2537 N Kedzie)

Best Food Hall: French Market (131 N Clinton); runner-up: Revival Food Hall (125 S Clark)



Best Dive Bar: Old Town Ale House (219 W North); runner-up: Burke’s Web Pub (2026 W Webster)

Best Sports Bar: State (935 W Webster); runner-up: Public House (400 N State)

Best Beer Garden: Sheffield’s (3258 N Sheffield); runner-up: Chief O’Neill’s (3471 N Elston)

Best Rooftop Bar: Cindy’s (12 S Michigan); runner-up: The J. Parker (1816 N Clark)

Best Local Beer: Revolution Brewing (3340 N Kedzie); runner-up: Half Acre (2050 W Balmoral)



Best Neighborhood: Old Town; runner-up: Lincoln Park

Most Interesting Street: Lincoln Avenue; runner-up: Milwaukee Avenue

Best L Line: Brown Line; runner-up: Blue Line

Best L Station: Washington – Wabash; runner-up: Cermak – McCormick Place

Best Movie Theater: The Music Box (3733 N Southport); runner-up: Davis (4614 N Lincoln)

Best Live Music Venue: The Elbo Room (2871 N Lincoln); runner-up: Lincoln Hall (2424 N Lincoln)

Best Live Theater: Second City (1616 N Wells); runner-up: Windy City Playhouse (3014 W Irving Park)

Best Barber Shop: Civic Opera Salon (20 N Wacker); runner-up: none

Best Yoga Studio: The Space Between (222 W Hubbard); runner-up: none

Best Park: Lincoln Park; runner-up: Millennium Park

Best Hotel: Alise (former Hotel Burnham – 1 W Washington); runner-up: Four Seasons (120 E Delaware)

Best Touristy Thing to Do: Architectural Boat Tour; runner-up: visit the Museum Campus

Best Sports Venue: United Center; runner-up: Guaranteed Rate Field

Best College Sports Program: Loyola Men’s Basketball; runner-up: Northwestern Football



Best Office Building Lobby: Franklin Center (227 W Monroe); runner-up: Santa Fe Building (224 S Michigan)

Best Office Building Exterior: 77 West Wacker; runner-up: Wrigley Building (400-410 N Michigan)

Best Classic Architecture: The Rookery (209 S LaSalle); runner-up: Monadnock Building (53 W Jackson)

Best Roof Top Deck: Civic Opera Building (20 N Wacker); runner-up: One Prudential Plaza (130 E Randolph)

Most Iconic Building: Willis Tower (233 S Wacker); runner-up: Merchandise Mart

Most Exciting New Development: The 78; runner-up: Lincoln Yards

Best Redevelopment: Old Post Office; runner-up; Tribune Tower

Best Tenant Rep Agency: CBIZ Gibraltar; runner-up: Colliers

Best Tenant Rep Broker: Jim Raisher (Corporate Real Estate Solutions); Tony Karmin (Colliers)

Best Landlord Rep Agency: Cushman & Wakefield; runner-up: Telos Group

Best Landlord Rep Broker: Dan Shannon (Aspire Properties); Aaron Zaretsky (Urban Innovations)

Best Co-Working Space: 1871 (Merchandise Mart); runner-up: Tech Nexus (20 N Wacker)

Now, bring on the debate!  Let us know who we excluded and how crazy we are for a certain selection.  Happy Holidays!

Why I Love/Hate Chicago

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I complain about things out of my control. Some of the recipients of those complaints? The weather, CTA, and people who annoy me. Where have I found all of these things in one place? The city of Chicago. I can utter the words, “I love this city!” and “I hate this city!” simultaneously, so I challenged myself to pick each topic and fit in both points of view.

So here is why I love/hate Chicago:


Boo: Fall is the most overrated season of all time. Not only does it last about 8 seconds, but it is also a reminder that 6 months of dark, freezing, icy, sadness is just around the corner. And don’t get me started on the pumpkin spice flavored everything. I probably just put pumpkin spice gasoline in my car. Plus, that first fall morning when I step outside onto the frost-crusted grass and can see my breath…it causes my insides to curl inside themselves. Essentially, I spend 1/3 of the summer being sad that fall is on its way because I know that it’s only the appetizer to winter which is even worse. Did you know that it snowed on April 18 this year? APRIL!

Yay: Fall in the Midwest is so beautiful. I love to grab a cozy drink and just walk around to see kids bundled up playing football in the park, step on crunchy leaves, and see the trees change from yellow to orange to red (especially from way-up-high) Not only that, it’s the right temperature to get snugly  while still being able to do fall activities like visiting apple orchards and pumpkin patches, which just aren’t the same without a flannel shirt. Plus, Halloween isn’t Halloween without a long sleeve shirt or jacket under my costume.

The people

Boo: People who visit me in Chicago have, on multiple occasions, pointed out how much faster I walk and how much meaner I look since moving to the city. I blame it partly on having to learn to avoid the Green Peace and ASPCA people on all of the corners downtown. Now, my first instinct when someone comes up to me is “what are they trying to get from me?”.  That thinking encourages more entitlement and spiciness from people; everyone’s always honking their horn, cutting people off in traffic, and swearing at bicyclists (who, to be fair, are also very annoying; you don’t get to be a pedestrian AND a car).  Bottom line, in any city there are the creeps, the weirdos, and the ones you shouldn’t make eye contact with; my pink pepper spray I got as a Christmas gift–while never used–has been my little safety blanket for some iffy times.

Yay: I like to think that most people in the world want to do good and be good. And with a lot of the individuals I’ve met, that has been the case. In Chicago, I met people who will truly be friends for life. Right after I moved here, I quickly got into the volleyball community–and it really is a community–and it blew my mind how quickly everyone was to grow their friend group. They are like one big giant family–one who sets up tents, volleyball nets, and grills at 6 a.m. on the Fourth of July for an all-day barbecue. In my experience with almost anyone, even when a person seems standoffish, I try to greet them with kindness and their mood flips almost instantly. People hold doors open, are willing to help with directions, and understand the need for manners (most of the time). I’ve gotten that “we’re all in this together” feel a lot of the time.

The public transit

Boo: Are you kidding? I can hardly go a day without refreshing the CTA’s twitter page to find out why there’s another delay on the Brown Line during rush hour (of course). Let’s not forget the excruciating TENS of minutes spent on the platform in below-zero weather, standing beneath a flimsy lamp heater that makes me feel like an egg in a middle school science classroom. Oh how I love having someone’s arm hair in my face or worse, being the unlucky patron stuck in the middle of a crowded train car, not blessed with long enough limbs to reach a bar to hold, trying to get a wide enough stance to balance, while hoping that the conductor doesn’t make any sudden movements. Or perhaps walking onto the train and getting a whiff of a stale, farm-like stench, praying that it’s not from urine that was left un-mopped and is now the reason your shoes are sticking to the floor.

Yay: Cruising by car after car in stop and go traffic is one of my favorite pastimes. Once I’m aboard, I know the train will take me 21 minutes to get to work, which is, conveniently, just enough time to watch an episode of The Office and have a few pre-work laughs. Even when it’s rush hour, I don’t have to pay attention to the road or focus on anything but distracting myself. And back to the weather, (unless you’re spoiled with a heated garage) when you wake up to find an inch of ice clung to your windshield and must spend 10+ minutes scraping and clearing it away, sweating in your puffy jacket? I’ve never had to scrape ice off the windows of the train.

Oh Chicago, you have made me feel so many things in the past 7 years. I love your lake that looks like an ocean, your buildings that are equally beautiful whether it’s night or day, and your endless restaurants and trendy cocktail bars. Not a big fan of your weather for 8 months out of the year, but we toughed it out. No matter where I go after you, however, nothing will change the space you occupied in my heart as my sweet home Chicago.