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Breakfast with the Chairman

Carpenter, Cronin, Riekse




Leaders in real estate and development gathered on Thursday, June 20 at a breakfast hosted by Choose DuPage and DuPage County Board Chairman, Dan Cronin for a lively discussion about how changing technology and innovation impact businesses’ office space needs. Business representatives around the table talked about the many ways DuPage County workplaces are evolving to embrace these “offices of the future.” The discussion was led by Paul O’Connor of Hamilton Partners


“DuPage County’s real estate market has evolved tremendously in recent years,” said Chairman Cronin. “In order to continue driving economic development, we need to ensure we are meeting the needs of today’s market. Ultimately, we hope that by having collaborative discussions like this, we can develop creative solutions to remain competitive.” 


The discussion was largely focused on: trends in office spaces and meeting the needs of today’s workforce; the competitive landscape, and how to remain an attractive market; and creative solutions to solving transportation needs.




Diana Riekse of CBRE shared CBRE’s recent report: New Workplace Strategies for an Evolving Workforce. Key highlights of the report include:


  • 79% of businesses say space use is a top priority.
  • 86% of corporate real estate executives say that tenants are adapting the workplace for more collaboration and less cost. 
  • Today, unassigned seating makes up 51% of workplaces. In three years, it is expected to reach almost 75%.
  • Amenities are the #1 thing employees care about in their workplace. 
  • 64% of tenants are seeking amenities like hospitality and concierge services. 
  • The top amenity that employees want today (79%) are bike racks.


Linda Sloan of Shared Use Mobility Center said, “I work in a shared workspace with many millennials. As I’ve gotten to know these younger professionals, I’ve found that they work very hard, but their whole world is different than the one I started in – a conventional office space with a hierarchy of people. Millennials are very entrepreneurial, they like flat work structures with opportunity for collaboration, and open work spaces.” 


Ray Warner of Franklin Partners, who is re-developing the former OfficeMax headquarters in Naperville, said, “We feel that by raising the bar in the amenity class, it will give tenants an alternative asset to consider when choosing the location of their corporate headquarters. What has been missing [in this market] are the things that attract millennials and companies that are trying to re-brand their vision.”




The group discussed the need for owners to re-invest in their buildings in order to continue attracting tenants to this market. “I think if there is one area I would creatively focus on, it is incentivizing tenants to sign longer-term leases. That can be hard, but that is what can transform an asset,” said Dan Deuter, CBRE. “When tenants are willing to make long-term commitments, the level of investment into the building is higher.”


They agreed that nationally, there is a perception among investors that companies are moving away from the suburbs to go downtown. Dan Hession of Morgan Harbor shared an alternative perspective, “Not everyone is going downtown. We just completed the new HubGroup headquarters in Oak Brook and they wanted to stay in DuPage County. They have a long history in DuPage, and this is where their workforce is located.”


The consensus of the group was—in order to remain an attractive market, DuPage County needs creative solutions and collaboration.






According to CBRE’s Chicago Suburban Office Market Overview, parking ratios have become an increased sticking point within the suburban market as tenants continue to seek improved efficiency and collaboration through historically high-density levels. The higher market vacancy figures among suburban product is in part due to the lack of necessary parking to meet increased tenant demands.


More and more, young professionals are seeking alternatives to driving to work, and the suburban office market needs to find solutions to the first-mile & last-mile commute problem. This occurs when distances between transit stations and centers of employment are too great to walk. 


“You need to think very regionally—both within the County and outside its borders, about your network of transportation and how to fill those gaps,” said Linda Sloan. 


John Carpenter, President & CEO of Choose DuPage said, “we need transportation solutions to be accessible and simple. This means incorporating low (or no) -tech solutions like walking, mid-tech solutions like biking, and high-tech solutions like electric vehicles.”


Diana Riekse concluded the meeting by saying “Not only our buildings, but also our communities, need to have the amenities people want today. And the only way for this to come to fruition is through collaboration between public- and private-sector leaders.”



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Tentative deal set on O'Hare western access


Article by: Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business


See Original Article 


After three years of bitter public feuding, the Illinois Tollway and the Canadian Pacific Railway have reached a tentative deal that finally should clear the way for long-awaited western access to O'Hare International Airport.


The tollway board has scheduled a special board meeting for tomorrow afternoon to vote on a "letter of intent" with Canadian Pacific Railway.


Tollway officials declined further comment in advance of the meeting. But a source close to the matter tells me that, a year and a half after the tollway sued Canadian Pacific Railway before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and the two resumed talks, a framework compromise has been reached under which the tollway's new Elgin-O'Hare Expressway will be allowed to cross over the huge Canadian Pacific Railway Bensenville rail yard just southwest of O'Hare, but at a different point than under previous designs.


Construction on the road could begin next year, a year later than originally planned, if negotiations for a final contract to implement the tentative deal are successful. The road would run from I-90 south and west past O'Hare, eventually joining with I-294.


It's not known how much the redesign of the southern end of the proposed expressway will cost. But some land swaps likely will be needed, so that Canadian Pacific Railway can regain some operational flexibility it would lose with a huge highway crossing over its Bensenville yard.


The tollway a decade ago thought it had gentleman's agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway that, when it became time to build the expressway, a usage agreement would be quickly reached. But the railroad's position stiffened when it got new management, with the Canadian firm insisting it could not afford to give up any of its property.


Since then, management has changed again and big-name Illinois politicians have become involved, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Schaumburg.


DuPage hopes to win an economic development windfall with western access, replicating what happened in Rosemont on O'Hare's eastern end. But while the latest O'Hare expansion plans call for development of a large entry point and parking lots on the western side of the field, development of a western terminal is not envisioned in the near future.


Related Article: Please, no O'Hare without Western Access

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