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McDonald’s Confirms Corporate Relocation to Oprah’s Former Studio Site

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The fast food behemoth and nearly 2,000 employees are officially headed downdown

McDonald’s has confirmed plans to relocate from its sprawling corporate headquarters in suburban Oak Brook to the vacant former site of Oprah’s Harpo Studios in Chicago’s Fulton Market District. The official announcement comes on the heels of a recent report that the fast food giant was in advanced talks with developer Sterling Bay to set up shop in a new build-to-suit office complex spanning the entire block at 1058 W. Washington in the popular West Loop neighborhood.

The new facility — which will house the firm’s global corporate and U.S. headquarters plus its ‘Hamburger University’ training center — is expected to surpass 300,000 square feet in size, according to Crain’s. While Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel celebrated the company’s choice to relocate to the city, an administration spokesman stated that the City Hall did not provided any specific incentives to McDonald’s to do so.

The drastic change of scenery is part of the company’s larger initiative to meet shifting employee demographics and redefine corporate culture. In a statement, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook explains the reasoning behind the move. "This world-class environment will continue to drive business momentum by getting us even closer to customers, encouraging innovation and ensuring great talent is excited about where they work."

The arrival of a corporate workforce the size of McDonald’s is expected have a major impact on Fulton Market as well as create a significant vacancy in the suburban commercial market. McDonald’s current Oak Brook campus employs roughly 2,000 workers, though that number is expected to be pared down via cost-cutting measures over the coming years. According to the global fast food company, the Chicago relocation is anticipated to be complete by spring 2018.