Motorola to move to Chicago's Merchandise Mart

After years of businesses fleeing the city for what they saw as greener pastures in the suburbs, commercial real estate in downtown Chicago has started to make a comeback. Several weeks ago we wrote about the planned construction of new commercial properties. The success of those properties will likely depend in part on the return of businesses to the downtown. This week there is news of yet another company abandoning the suburbs for that destination.

Motorola Mobility is reportedly moving from Libertyville to Chicago's Merchandise Mart, located in the inner city. The change in location will result in approximately 3000 employees making their way downtown. This is not the first or likely the last business to decide to make the move. In addition to Motorola, BP Amoco, United Airlines and a portion of Sara Lee have either made the move or are planning on doing it.

The news of these moves is obviously good news for the city of Chicago. It is however not such good news for the suburbs left behind. One report, issued by MB Real Estate, indicates that the vacancy rate in the Chicago suburbs at the end of the second quarter of 2012 was 23 percent. The moves have resulted in empty office parks that are available for either lease or sale.

The sale or lease of suburban office parks that are essentially campuses, in some cases, present challenges. If businesses are choosing to leave the compound-like facilities behind, how can the properties be used? Suggestions for the spaces include retail centers, outlet malls, medical or educational uses and parks or recreation centers. The latter is particularly well suited for one property that is already equipped with tennis courts and a swimming pool.

How the vacant suburban property will fare remains to be seen.

Source: Chicago Sun Times, "Nobody home at suburban office parks," David Roeder, Aug. 7, 2012

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