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2021 Q2 Chicago Downtown Office Report

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Activity Increases as Market Remains in the Red

Because the COVID-19 pandemic is health-related, as opposed to a purely financial related crisis, recovery has been slower than expected as business leaders remain hesitant to resume immediate and aggressive activity – especially when compared to previous historical downturns. However, Chicago office users are now beginning to signal a desire for a significant return to physical occupation of office space.

Key Takeaways

  • Chicago CBD vacancy continues to break record highs with 17.0% total CBD vacancy – the highest ever in Chicago recorded history. The market is expected to continue vacancy increases for the remainder of 2021 as rebound may be slow coming.
  • Based on local announcements, some business leaders are expected to require a fair number of their office using workers to return to work full-time before the end of this year. A real reset view of the market is not expected until full physical worker occupation occurs.
  • The market is primed for tenants as landlords remain highly motivated to offer creative lease deal incentives in this prolonged soft market.


2021 Q2 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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