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Chicago CRE Shows Signs Of Life


As one of America’s largest cities and a major international business hub, Chicago was hit hard by Covid-19. 

Like other metropolises, the Windy City suffered a major blow to tax revenue when its downtown largely emptied out as office employees abruptly began to work from home in early 2020, according to a recent report. Even so, there are glimmers of hope for Chicago, including in its multifamily sector.

"The overall outlook for the Chicago market is positive," said Justin Behm, vice president of interiors for Chicago-based building contractor Leopardo Cos. "The roots that many technology companies have planted will continue to stimulate the central business district and adjacent neighborhoods."

Bisnow spoke with Behm to learn how the city navigated the pandemic and what might come next. 

Bisnow: What has happened to the Chicago market in the past 18 months?  

Behm: Like many other markets, the pandemic forced Chicago developers to hit the pause button on many real estate initiatives as they assessed what the future of their organization could look like.

Bisnow: How has Leopardo been able to pivot during this difficult time? 

Behm: We service an extremely diverse portfolio of clients and submarkets. This has allowed opportunities in healthcare and multifamily/affordable housing to help offset the current challenges in corporate interiors and retail. 

Also, the pandemic allowed us to dial up our already collaborative culture and share resources across the entire organization. This has deepened internal relationships and developed a team that is even more cross-functional than before.

Bisnow: Where does the market stand now? 

Behm: While there is still some uncertainty, we are definitely seeing more movement in the market now than we were six months ago and organizations are beginning to pursue real estate opportunities more actively. We expect that as clients, consumers and employees gradually integrate themselves back into the market, the experiences they have will be better and more impactful than they had before.

Bisnow: What projects do you have in the pipeline? 

Behm: We have a great mix of projects across all of our markets, led by the largest project in company history: an affordable housing development on the city’s North Side. Beyond our Chicago reach, we are actively working on projects in 13 states, including Ohio, South Carolina, California, Florida and Texas.

Bisnow: What lies ahead for the Chicago market? 

Behm: With such a diverse portfolio of real estate assets, adaptive reuse of existing spaces will continue to provide creative opportunities to capitalize on all the great things Chicago has to offer.

The city is committed to programs like INVEST South/West that are focused on bringing companies, jobs and better housing to neighborhoods.

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Leopardo Cos. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

Studio B is Bisnow’s in-house content and design studio. To learn more about how Studio B can help your team, reach out to

Related Topics: Chicago, Leopardo Cos, Justin Behm