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2021 Q1 Chicago Downtown Office Report

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Cautious Optimism in the Face of Negativity

Although there is some optimism in the market with a slight uptick in activity compared to last quarter, a return to market “health” is a long way off. The Chicago office market is expected to remain soft well into 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • Activity (along with optimism) is up in 1Q21 although much of the movement in the market is renewals and contractions of office space
  • Vacancy is highest in a 15-year history and may move higher over the next few quarters as new deliveries add significant vacant space to the market with diminished demand
  • Landlords are highly motivated in this soft market to offer creative lease deal incentives for savvy tenants willing to take advantage of the soft market now 

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2021 Q1 Chicago Downtown Office Report

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Sandy McDonald

Senior Director of Research

Chicago - Downtown

I am the senior director of research at Colliers | Chicago and lead the Office Advisory Group’s market research initiative. I am responsible for building and maintaining competitive market intelligence which includes the office properties database of property sales and leases, tenant information and comparable transactions.

I also manage daily operations including the collection and analysis of market and economic-related statistics, providing clients with customized reports and in-depth interpretation of underlying trends in the market. In addition, I compile proprietary quarterly office market statistics and reports for business development and client support purposes. I am considered an expert in the field and am frequently featured in industry newspapers and publications. 

I have 13 years’ experience in commercial real estate research. Prior to joining Colliers, I served as director of market research at Transwestern. Prior to Transwestern, I spent three years at DTZ (now Cushman & Wakefield) as the senior research analyst for Chicago. Prior to joining DTZ, I spent four years with Grubb & Ellis (now Newmark Knight Frank) in Chicago as an office research analyst and support for the industrial services team.

In addition to commercial real estate experience, I've had extensive experience in the mortgage industry as a mortgage sales executive with Option One Mortgage. I not only researched, marketed, brokered and sold mortgage products to clients but also managed a team of account managers, handling account issues and client resolutions. I also developed training, introduced new products to clients and streamlined procedures in company offices.

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