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From World Business Chicago To CBRE: The Journey Of Dan Lyne

Few are as responsible for today’s Chicago tech office real estate landscape as Dan Lyne, SVP with CBRE’s Global Tech & Media team and one of our featured panelists at Bisnow’s 6th Annual State of Office event, 7am June 21, at 222 South Riverside. Dan’s guidance was felt throughout Chicago’s tech scene long before he entered commercial real estate.


Before Dan joined CBRE in 2013, he spent over a decade at World Business Chicago as the director of technology and development. While championing notable relocation projects such as Boeing, Miller-Coors and NAVTEQ, Dan focused most of his efforts on what it takes to build a world-class urban tech environment, rolling his sleeves up to assist lesser known companies (at the time) like Braintree, Orbitz, Threadless and GrubHub.

Dan was also part of the original team that created 1871 (pictured below), the now-140k SF tech incubator at the Merchandise Mart that helped establish the Mart as the epicenter of Chicago’s tech scene. And as co-founder and former executive director of ChicagoNEXT, Dan worked with local industry leaders to bring visibility across Chicago’s growing mobile, cleantech and bioscience communities.


Dan’s tenure at WBC prepared him well for the transition to real estate. He helped CEOs through bureaucratic red tape and dealing with construction issues like transportation challenges and talent shortages, which he continues to do at CBRE. But Dan's job doesn’t end once he secures office space for a firm. He’s always searching for ways to build bridges between startups and more traditional businesses; he believes each has something to teach the other and usually only positive things can result. Playing a small role as that connective layer between groups adds value that can never be realized on a lease agreement, he tells us.

Dan says one tried-and-true practice carried over to his real estate career: the importance of personal relationships and connecting others. Dan says we simply can’t overestimate the value that can be created by using our own networks for the betterment of others.


Dan says time, talent and culture are major driving forces behind today’s office leasing market. Just a few of the ways companies can touch that employee reflex are through wellness and fitness programs, collaborative environments, soulful design and art in the workplace.

Dan finds the employers that best attract and retain talent are authentic in their goals. Even with the advances in technology, the foundation for an employer/employee relationship is the same. Companies want hard workers; employees want recognition for their work. So employers are getting smarter about workplace efficiencies. But Dan also believes the market may have swung too far left on open workplace environments and density algorithms. There’s a reality returning to the market on what the most productive workplaces look like. Dan says companies can design a workspace, but they can’t manufacture soul. Talent is bred by a nurturing culture and if it isn’t set early, it will be adversely reflected down the line.

As for the next big tech office markets in town, Dan is high on Goose Island and the Clybourn/Elston industrial corridor, in large part because they are right in the middle of the neighborhoods where young workers already live. Dan sees a resurgence of office opportunities and sophisticated developments in these submarkets. One example: CBRE client Cards Against Humanity. Dan and his partners, Kyle Kamin and Jarrett Annenberg, worked with CAH founder Max Temkin on the company’s space at Elston and Cortland, where CAH is now attracting some of the most creative minds in the industry, by invitation.

To learn more, please attend Bisnow's 6th Annual State of Office event, 7am June 21, at 222 South Riverside. Register here.