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Sterling Bay's Scott Goodman Talks Cool Cribs

Chicago Office

Sterling Bay founding principal Scott Goodman had a creative office 25 years ago (back when office amenities included free floppy disks) and continues to lead the adaptive-reuse charge with the firm’s projects in the Randolph/Fulton Market neighborhood.


So he's our No. 1 brain to pick at Bisnow’s Chicago Creative Office Summit this Thursday. Sterling Bay has always done more loft-type flexible space buildings, and the firm itself has always had an open bullpen setup. “We do it because it’s our own sensibility, and we’re lucky the market happened to come our way,” he says. (This understatement speaks to his modesty.) Now that companies are moving into the city to lure Millennials, they’re also more concerned with quality of life and a collegial workplace. (No more holing up in the cubicle for days.)


With its work on significant assets like Hillshire Brands’ HQ (above), 1K Fulton, and 111 N Canal, Sterling Bay has become the market mover in the cool crib space. 1K Fulton (Google’s new office) construction is in full swing and leasing’s done save for one floor, Scott says, and inflight WiFi provider Gogo is taking a third of 850k SF 111 N Canal (along with some other high-profile tech firms he can’t mention yet). In Fulton Market, the company is buying a 400k SF property called Fulton West (300 N Elizabeth) that could attract another major tech user. (Fun fact: It’s the former HQ of marchFIRST, one of the big dot-commers that went poof in ’01.)


The Randolph/Fulton Market neighborhood was held back for a long time because of the meatpackers, market tradition, and zoning restrictions, but Sterling Bay recognized its office potential given its proximity to the Loop and restaurant/residential boom. (Much like the Meatpacking District in NYC.) He expects to see more retail development, and something impactful from whoever picks up the Harpo Studios site (above). The challenges: finding good, sizable building stock (a lot has already been converted to residential) for creative reuse, and at a decent price. Which is why the neighborhood will continue to expand outward, he tells us. Out of state, Sterling Bay's at work on Victory Ranch & Conservancy, a ranch development near Deer Valley, Utah.