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As Office Vacancies Rise, Developers Aim to Restore Loop’s Vibrancy

Aerial view of the Chicago Loop

It’s been four years since the COVID-19 outbreak led to a rise in remote work. Now, even though the public health crisis has diminished, the work from home trend shows no signs of slowing, pushing downtown office vacancies higher.

“We just don’t have the same number of people working in the Loop as before,” said Dan McMillen, a real estate professor at University of Illinois Chicago.

Recently, Mayor Brandon Johnson backed a plan to repurpose four vacant office buildings in the city’s financial district to include 1,000 units of housing – 300 of which would be affordable. The plan for one of the vacant buildings, at 111 W. Monroe, consists of 345 housing units and a 200-room hotel. Veteran developers Quintin Primo III and Michael Reschke are behind the $202 million project, which also includes 105 affordable housing units.

“We will activate this [space] with people, with activity, which will generate revenue and taxes and vibrancy,” said Primo.