The Question of Office Space: Chicago Commercial Real Estate Pros from Cushman & Wakefield Talk Trends

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

A question on many business owners’ minds is what their  real estate needs will be once the pandemic ends. John Lothian News is no exception, so we reached out to real estate professionals Jack Keenan and Jack Deroche to give us a rundown on what Chicago’s market looks like now and in the future.

Keenan is executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield and Deroche is a director there. The firm bills itself as a “global leader in the commercial real estate industry,” so the two executives are well-positioned to speak about the trends they see across Chicago and the U.S.

They spoke about Chicago’s corporate diversity compared to other gateway cities, cities defined as  “urban metro areas that act as the foundation and hub for the economic industry for the state, region, or country.” (

Chicago offers affordability compared to other gateway cities, as well as world-class connectivity. In fact, Chicago is the No. 2 data center city in the world, Deroche said.

Chicago also has been the No. 1 city for corporate relocation in the last eight years, attracting a diversity of corporations to the city. Many of the new commercial office developments in Chicago are full, or nearly full, as is the case with the refurbished Old Post Office Building.

Keenan and Deroche noted that the life science business is growing in Chicago, technology companies are growing and law firms continue to grow and take space. Even manufacturing space is tight.

Keenan said that while Cook County has seen an overall drop in population, the percentage of the population with bachelor degrees in the county is up 3.5% since 2019. Start-up companies are raising money like crazy, Keenan said.

However, the new work-from-home model and how much space they will need when more workers return to the office is a big question mark for firms.

The advice they are giving to clients is to plan. When the pandemic ends, the firms that have done the best long-term planning will be able to quickly adapt to the changing economic environment, Keenan said.

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