Why business leaders seek space in Chicago’s West Loop

A thriving community makes this neighborhood appealing

WeWork loves Chicago. It’s a city that seamlessly blends business and play, art and industry, and forward-looking innovation with a storied history. Like many downtowns across the country, Chicago’s Loop has experienced an urban renaissance, replete with exciting business growth, culture, and lifestyle trends.

WeWork saw gleaming potential in West Loop/Fulton, and our vision for the whole of Chicago continues to expand. When our new Green Street location opens in 2021, WeWork will be the largest lessor of commercial real estate space in the city of Chicago. Our West Loop vision is not just about office space and expansion in the market. Our love for the West Loop has to do with the incredible benefits that this vibrant neighborhood serves up for our member companies and the people who work there.

Why West Loop/Fulton

Chicago’s West Loop is a place for growth. It’s almost as if the second city has sprung a second central business district. It’s a place for expansion—not only for business but also for Chicagoans’ lives outside of work. Companies moving out of the Loop or suburbs are searching for a hipper area close to the city. Here, residential properties and office buildings sit next to award-winning restaurants, swanky bars, and food markets. Startups rub shoulders with small businesses and large corporate enterprises all in the same neighborhood. It’s where Chicagoans want to do business, play, and live. 

In a competitive job market, soft benefits like location and surrounding amenities take on an outsize role in both attracting candidates and keeping them engaged and loyal over the long run. As we’ve seen in recent years, large enterprise companies are rethinking their large campus-style, suburban addresses. The people who work for them want to be downtown. From a business standpoint, it helps to have proximity to suppliers, vendors, creative agencies, and other partners. In a dense, dynamic, urban environment, all businesses benefit from access to other companies, other industries, and the drumbeat of life happening beyond the office windows.

The 2018 relocation of McDonald’s HQ and Hamburger University, from Oak Brook to a Randolph Street West Loop location, is an attractive draw for not only their suppliers and service partners, but also their current and future employees. McDonald’s new headquarters is also a strong statement for the brand as it aims to appeal to an urban, health-conscious customer.

To underscore the motivations at the heart of bringing McDonald’s back to downtown, CEO Steve Easterbrook said at the HQ unveiling, “We firmly believe that part of the importance of the move downtown is that it gets us closer to our customers, it gets us closer to competition, it gets us closer to the trends that are shaping the future of society.”

Other West Loop/Fulton companies include Google’s new Chicago HQ, office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, and consulting giant Accenture. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: As more companies are putting down roots in this booming part of town, more enterprises are considering a similar move downtown. 

Offices in the West Loop: proximity is key

WeWork has been a central player in the growth of Chicago’s West Loop/Fulton neighborhood. A trailblazer in the Chicago market, we were one of the first shared office providers in the West Loop, with the opening of 220 N. Green in 2015. Early on, WeWork saw an opportunity to help shape this burgeoning business district for the member businesses we serve and also the people who work for these companies. 

Opening in June of 2021, WeWork will offer 124K-plus square feet of glass-enclosed office space and 2,200-plus desks in the Gensler-designed 167 N. Green Street building. An impressive ground-up build, this building invites people to linger beyond the standard nine-to-five. The 17th floor houses a fitness facility, rooftop patio, lounge, and fire pits. Additionally, the design has taken walkability into consideration in a neighborhood that needs pedestrian-friendly zones. “The mews,” a 30,000-plus square foot walkway, will connecting Halsted and Green Streets with retail, pocket parks, and restaurants accessible from the street level. The building will also offer 129 parking spots. 

Our new Green Street location will be just a block from WeWork’s original West Loop/Fulton location at 220 N. Green Street. This classic WeWork configuration, in a renovated industrial building, has six floors comprised of 952 private offices, dedicated desks, and hot desks. Rounding out our current West Loop/Fulton assets is another classic building just two blocks from Union Station. The 625 W. Adams Street location features hot desks and private offices. Our members have enjoyed being in the heart of the growth of this neighborhood. 

In West Loop/Fulton, companies can go from seedling to partnership, from a small team to hundreds of employees all in the same vicinity. WeWork helps free up companies to focus on what they do best, and our commitment to West Loop/Fulton, the variety of workspace solutions we offer, and the proximity of our locations in the neighborhood make scaling possible while staying in a location that works for your business and your people.

What’s next for office space in the West Loop 

West Loop/Fulton will continue to expand as a new central business district. Expect to see the construction boom continue for new residential buildings, office space, retail, shopping, and dining. A significant step toward cementing West Loop as the place for business in Chicago will be the upcoming Metro stop at Lake/Ogden. New public transportation options will make the neighborhood even more attractive to companies looking to hire talent and retain their current employees.

WeWork is excited to launch headquarters by WeWork, in 2020, in the heart of West Loop/Fulton. For companies in search of both privacy and flexibility, headquarters by WeWork offers bespoke, configurable offices for medium- to enterprise-level businesses. Businesses can move into a space that reflects their brand and values, with little to no capital investment. The best part about the headquarters product is that companies can grow their business in an autonomous office, while WeWork manages the operation of that space. It’s a low-stakes, high-reward solution for companies who need to focus their expenditures on growing the business—not building an office or managing a long-term lease. This standalone, full-floor, turn-key product has seen tremendous success in other major cities, including New York, San Francisco, Boston, London, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Our headquarters assets will help elevate WeWork’s Chicago portfolio and also help support our members as they focus on growing their businesses. 

Our first Chicago headquarters by WeWork asset will open at 1115 W. Fulton Market, three blocks from the Green Line’s Morgan stop in the heart of Chicago’s old meatpacking district. Adjacent to Google’s new headquarters, 1115 W. Fulton Market is a dynamic play, live, and work hub offering market-style fine dining, bars, and retail. In June of 2020, WeWork is opening a classic space featuring hot desks, designated desks, and private offices at 1155 W. Fulton Market. This refitted brick, glass, and steel building will include retail shops on the street level and a fourth-floor steel addition that will house office space and a terrace. 

In 2021, with the opening of 167 N. Green Street, WeWork will be the single biggest lessor of commercial real estate in Chicago, at over one million square feet. West Loop/Fulton’s white-hot status is a given these days, and it involves many different players. But we like to think that WeWork’s signature energy helped to animate the rise of this dynamic neighborhood and will continue to fuel the growth for years to come.

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