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Downtown Chicago Office Vacancies Could Top 20%

With 21.4 million square feet of vacancy—the equivalent of about five Willis Towers—downtown Chicago has a record amount of unwanted office space, the Chicago Tribune reported. With vacancies reaching 15.5% as 2020 ended, the situation could get a whole lot worse in the next two years.

Citing CBRE data, the Tribune reported that downtown’s vacancy rate could climb to 18% by the end of next year, even if tenants begin to move into unused space following COVID-19 in a manner that emulates bounce-backs from previous economic downturns.

If unused and under-construction space is slower to be absorbed, vacancy could reach 20.3%, according to CBRE, not including sublease space now on the market.

Hearn SVP Edward McKim notes that this downturn isn’t like previous ones. “In 2008 the bottom fell out and the Band-Aid was ripped off,” he told the Tribune “Companies went away overnight. Now there’s more uncertainty.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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