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Office space in Chicago’s West Loop: A second downtown

The future is west

WeWork loves Chicago. It’s a city that seamlessly blends business and play, art and industry, and forward-looking innovation with a storied history. Chicago’s Loop has experienced an urban Renaissance, not unlike what’s happening in downtowns across the country. But for exciting business growth, culture and lifestyle trends, and a snapshot of Chicago’s future, you’ll want to go west. WeWork saw gleaming potential in West Loop/Fulton, and our vision for the whole of Chicago continues to expand. When our new Green Street location opens in 2021, WeWork will be the largest lessor of commercial real estate space in the city of Chicago. Our West Loop vision is not just about office space and expansion in the market. A big part of our love for the West Loop comes down to the incredible benefits that this vibrant neighborhood serves up for our member companies and the people who work there.

Why West Loop/Fulton

Chicago’s West Loop is a place for growth. It’s almost as if the second city has sprung a second central business district. It’s a place for expansion, not only for business but also for Chicagoans’ lives outside of work. Companies moving out of the Loop or suburbs are searching for a much hipper area close to the city. Residential properties and office buildings sit next to award-winning restaurants, swanky bars, and food markets. Several soon-to-be-best in Chicago hotels are coming to West Loop, including Nobu, and Equinox. Startups rub shoulders with small businesses and large corporate enterprises all in the same neighborhood. West Loop has particular cache, too. It’s where Chicagoans want to be, for business and play. It’s where Chicagoans aspire to live. 

It’s not only the young, seedling businesses that benefit from being in a high-growth area. As we’ve seen in recent years, large enterprise companies are rethinking their large campus-style, suburban addresses. The people who work for them want to be downtown. From a business standpoint, it helps to have proximity to suppliers, vendors, creative agencies, and other partners. In a dense, dynamic, urban environment, all businesses benefit from access to other companies, other industries, and the drumbeat of life happening beyond the office windows. The hiring of talent and the retainment of high-quality people is a top priority for most companies. In a competitive job market, soft benefits like location and surrounding amenities take on an outsize role in both attracting candidates and keeping them engaged and loyal over the long run.

The 2018 relocation of McDonald’s HQ and Hamburger University from Oak Brook to a swanky Randolph Street West Loop location, is an attractive draw for not only their suppliers and service partners, but also their current and future employees. McDonald’s new headquarters is a statement for their brand, too, as they aim to appeal to an urban, health-conscious customer.

To underscore the motivations at the heart of bringing McDonalds back to downtown, CEO Steve Easterbrook said at the HQ unveiling, “We firmly believe that part of the importance of the move downtown is that it gets us closer to our customers, it gets us closer to competition, it gets us closer to the trends that are shaping the future of society,”

Other West Loop/Fulton companies include Google’s new Chicago HQ, office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, and consulting giant Accenture. The fact that companies are taking notice and staking out roots in this booming part of town is a boon to attracting yet more enterprises considering a move downtown. 

Offices in the West Loop: Why proximity is key

WeWork has been a central player in the growth of Chicago’s West Loop/Fulton neighborhood. A trailblazer in the Chicago market, we were one of the first shared office providers in the West Loop, with the opening of 220 N. Green in 2015. Early on, WeWork saw an opportunity to help shape this burgeoning business district, not only for the member businesses we serve but also the people who work for these companies. 

Opening in June of 2021, WeWork will offer 124K+ square feet of glass-enclosed office space, and 2,200+ desks in the Gensler-designed 167 N. Green Street building. An impressive ground-up build, this building is not just about punching the time clock between nine and five. The 17th floor houses a fitness facility, rooftop patio, lounge, and fire pits. Additionally, the design has taken walkability into consideration in a neighborhood that needs pedestrian-friendly zones. Connecting Halsted and Green Streets will be a 30,000+ square foot walkway, “the mews,” with retail, pocket parks, and restaurants accessible from the street level. The building will also offer 129 parking spots. 

Our new Green Street location will be just a block from WeWork’s original West Loop/Fulton location. This classic WeWork configuration at 220 N. Green Street, in a renovated industrial building, has six floors comprised of 952 private offices, dedicated desks, and hot desks. Rounding out our current West Loop/Fulton assets is a classic building just two blocks from Union Station. Our 625 W. Adams Street location features hot desks and private offices. Our members have enjoyed being in the heart of the growth of this neighborhood. 

Not lost on us is this idea of helping businesses scale their space as they grow. In West Loop/Fulton, companies can go from seedling to partnership to a small team to hundreds of employees all in the same neck of the woods. WeWork offers a variety of office space solutions for wherever your company happens to be at the moment. All of our real estate solutions enable companies to streamline their search for space and allow for flexibility and ease of operations. WeWork helps free up companies to focus on what they do best. Presumably, that isn’t commercial real estate. WeWork’s commitment to West Loop/Fulton, the variety of workspace solutions we offer and the proximity of our locations in the neighborhood, make scaling possible all while staying in a location that works for your business and your people.

What’s next for office space in the West Loop 

West Loop/Fulton will continue to expand as a new central business district. Expect to see the construction boom continue for new residential buildings, office space, and retail, shopping, and dining. A significant step towards cementing West Loop as the place for business in Chicago will be the upcoming Metra stop at Lake/Ogden. New public transportation options will make the neighborhood even more attractive to companies looking to hire talent and retain their current employees.

WeWork is excited to launch headquarters by WeWork in 2020 in the heart of West Loop/Fulton. For companies wanting both privacy and flexibility, headquarters by WeWork offers bespoke, configurable offices for medium to enterprise-level businesses. Businesses can move into a space that reflects their brand and values, with little to no capital investment. The best part about the headquarters product is that companies can grow their business in an autonomous office, while WeWork manages the operation of that space. It’s a low-stakes, high-reward solution for companies who need to focus their expenditures on growing the business, not building an office, or managing a long-term lease. This standalone, full-floor, turn-key product has seen tremendous success in other major cities, including New York, San Francisco, Boston, London, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Our headquarters assets will not only help elevate WeWork’s Chicago portfolio. This product also helps support our members as they focus on growing their businesses. 

Our first Chicago headquarters by WeWork asset will open at 1115 W. Fulton Market, three blocks from the Green Line’s Morgan stop in the heart of Chicago’s old meatpacking district. Adjacent to Google’s new headquarters, 1115 W. Fulton Market is a dynamic play, live, and work hub offering market-style fine dining, bars, and retail. In June of 2020, WeWork is opening a classic space featuring hot desks, designated desks, and private offices at 1155 Fulton Market. This refitted brick, glass, and steel building will include retail shops on the street level and a fourth-floor steel addition that will house office space and a terrace. 

In 2021, with the opening of 167 N. Green Street, WeWork will be the single biggest lessor of commercial real estate in Chicago, at over 1 million square feet. WeWork understands that the sub-market is booming in places like Chicago. Across the Chicago market, businesses are faced with tough choices and expensive real estate. For many companies, owning a building or signing a long-term lease doesn’t make good business sense. WeWork reduces our member companies’ liability and the amount of capital investment they have to make to get a space that works for them. Taking the guesswork out of the real estate question for our members enables them to focus on the important things: designing a workspace around what they do and one that values their employees’ health and wellness. Long term, these types of workspaces help our member companies in the hiring and retainment of talent. Neighborhoods like West Loop only add to the benefits within WeWork’s walls. The bustling streets of the West Loop provide a growing list of entertainment, dining, and residential options.

West Loop/Fulton’s white-hot status is a given these days, and it involves many different players. But we like to think that WeWork’s signature energy helped to animate the rise of this dynamic neighborhood and will continue to fuel the growth for years to come.

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