We’ll kick things off today with an issue that has some commercial real estate experts sweating bullets: what to do with Chicagoland’s empty suburban corporate complexes turned ghost towns after firms downsize and vacate millions of square feet of office space. Fresh on the heels of Naperville’s 516,000-square-foot former Alcatel-Lucent building hitting the market earlier this week, the topic carries a renewed sense of urgency.
As corporate cultures and demographics shift and more people want to work, live, and even raise families in the city, some have predicted that such campuses will go the way of the dodo bird. Though Motorola Mobility’s former Libertyville campus found new life as a biomedical research facility after the firm moved to the Merchandise Mart, others suburban facilities have been far less fortunate. Allstate demolished its South Barrington campus in 2012 after failing to find a buyer for its 64 acres and 516,000 square feet of office space.
That said, adaptive reuse is certainly an interesting proposition. Doral, Florida recently announced plans to see sprawling vacant corporate headquarters transformed into a new mixed-use "Main Street" style business district. Other ideas to repurpose corporate into such things as universities, religious retreats, or even indoor farming facilities have been making the round.
With McDonald’s making the move from Oak Brook to downtown’s West Loop, the suburban office market is on the brink of yet another huge vacancy. What do you think Chicagoland should do with these massive now-empty properties? Let us know in the comments!