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This Season’s Hottest Tenant

Chicago Office

Well, tech startups have really been tenant du jour for much longer than a season, and that’s unlikely to change. But expansion from a two- or three-person operation often means commitments that frighten entrepreneurs. Flexible space and government incentives can ease the transition, we learned at DLA Piper’s recent “Leveraging Economic Incentives for Start-Ups” discussion at 1871. Pictured: Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director Adam Pollett, CBRE EVP Brad Serot and DLA Piper partner Rich Klawiter. Ideas for flexible space: a sublease, coworking space, or law firm space where you get a 50% discount on rent and can re-evaluate the company before making a long-term commitment.

Snapped: DLA Piper’s Greg Grossman with The Bunker’s Thomas Day, announcing that the firm will be donating $25,000 to the 1871 incubator that supports veteran-run startups. While landlords are enjoying downtown’s office vacancy levels, the lowest in five years, and hiking rents, entrepreneurs are struggling to find top-tier talent. The panelists’ advice: Make employees’ lives easier to invest the worker in the office (on-site laundry, daycare, haircuts, etc) and pick a hot area like Fulton Market or River West. It may be tough to find suitable properties in established tech meccas like River North, but “soul crushing” high-rises are becoming harder to sell and require more demanding design updates, they say.