Why Techies Love River North
|Is River North the place for cool, new companies to office? (We may have read that in Vogue, or we may have just told people we read it in Vogue because that magazine is too long.) CBRE’s SVP Brad Serot says yes, and the numbers prove it: With an overall vacancy rate of 9%, River North is the CBD’s best-performing office submarket; next is the West and Central Loop at a distant 14.5%. What’s more, he says that Google’s lease for nearly 600k SF at the Merchandise Mart and Salesforce.com’s agreement to take 116k SF at 111 W Illinois signal that the fast-growing tech sector—a tight knit community—is here to stay.|
Of course, the Mart (above) is a gigantic building with expansive floors, but many other River North buildings also have large, open floorplates and other tech-attracting attributes. Converted wood beam warehouses have a SoHo feel, rather than the corporate feel of a Loop office. Q2 gross average asking rents in River North were $26.75/SF versus $31.16/SF for the overall CBD, Brad tells us. Friedman Properties EVP Jason Friedman adds that River North offers tech employees in their 20s the lifestyle they want: 24/7 activity, lots of restaurants, bars, and mass transit. Given their environmental awareness, Jason says, nothing is more green than renovating an existing building.
Rich Gatto EVP of the Alter Group (in Vegas on vacation)—which developed 111 W Illinois and 20 W Kinzie, where Google first settled when it came to town—says that Chicago will increasingly be a magnet for Mid-West college grads. As other regional cities decline or tread water, Chicago is growing. While that's an ongoing trend, Google’s 600k SF commitment “put a stamp of approval “on the city and River North. Another attraction: multifamily development downtown, as the still-sluggish condo market is keeping young families here that otherwise might have decamped for the suburbs and better schools. Upgrade Chicago public schools, says Rich, and the city is golden.