Wednesday, March 6, 2013

CPR Training Makes a Difference at MBRE During Heart Health Month

In recognition of American Heart Month in February, MB Real Estate employees were offered an on-site CPR/AED certification program.  CPR is a simple, yet effective way to empower individuals to save lives in emergencies, and MBRE was proud to offer this important training during the month of February.
Vickie Onesti (pictured left) instructs Darlene Rodriguez (pictured right) on performing CPR.
MB Real Estate’s Darlene Rodriguez (pictured above) knows all too well the importance of CPR in the workplace. Several years ago, Rodriguez suffered from sudden cardiac arrest at her desk. Another employee at the firm saw Rodriguez and immediately administered CPR while the ambulance was en route.
“CPR likely saved my life,” said Rodriguez. “I think it’s great that MB Real Estate offered training to its team. You just never know when you may need these skills and I can tell you personally, it made a world of difference for me!”  
The CPR/AED training was conducted by Vickie Onesti (pictured above), MBRE VP of Corporate Services, who is a certified instructor and the owner of One Stitch Training CompanyPlease see below for some important heart health facts.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lucky Number '13: Predictions from the 2013 Forecast Conference

Over 1,000 real estate professionals attended the 11th annual Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference last month to hear the predictions for 2013 from the industry’s top real estate pros.
Panelists (from left to right): Joe Cosenza (The Inland Group Inc.), Andrew Davidson (MB Real Estate), Steve Schnur (Duke), Dan Arends (Colliers), John Picchiotti (NAI Hiffman), and Bruce Miller (Jones Lang LaSalle)
Beginning with a fireside chat featuring Christopher Kennedy, attendees learned the history of the Merchandise Mart and the progress of the Wolf Point development as well as Kennedy’s outlook for the future.  Next up was the “Big Picture in Commercial Real Estate” panel which included MB Real Estate’s Andrew Davidson and several other commercial and industrial real estate execs.  The panel discussed the 40 percent increase in sales volume from 2011 to 2012, also noting the lack of new construction.  Panelists predicted more spec development taking place in 2013, cap rates continuing to compress and an increase in rental rates.  Speakers presented a generally positive outlook and predicted growth, albeit slow.          
Our own market research team forecasts the following for 2013:
·         Decreasing vacancy
o   Direct vacancy fell 30 basis points to 15.1 percent in Q4 2012 for the second consecutive quarter, and each building class saw a decline in vacancy.
o   River North, Central Loop, and West Loop submarkets outperformed the overall market again, with only the South Loop experiencing negative absorption.
·         Stagnant Supply
o   No new developments were announced this quarter.
o   Hines has delayed its ground breaking on a 45-story, 900,000 square foot tower at 444 West Lake until the first quarter of 2013. Completion is still slated for mid-2016.
·         Continued Downtown Relocations
o   Maximus, Presence Health, and Zones aare three newly-announced companies that will relocate to at least 20,000 square feet each in the CBD.
o   The trend is expected to continue as the City of Chicago works to attract more companies downtown and employers seek talented recent grads that prefer to work downtown.
·         Rental rates are increasing and concessions are decreasing
o   Class A rental rates for new transactions increased by 1 percent in Q4 2012 on a year-over-year basis.
o   Q4 2012 average tenant improvement allowances fell 8.5 percent while average rent abatement declined by 7.1 percent.
·         Risks to Growth
o   Many offices have underutilized space which could slightly offset the increased demand resulting from hiring growth.
o   Decreasing Space Requirements:
§  Changing workspace trends such as hoteling, telecommuting and trading private offices for collaborative space are causing a shrinking space requirement per employee.
§  Digital archiving and cloud computing is causing reduced space needs.
o   Increased corporate tax rates in Illinois and increased national tax rates discourage corporate expansion.
o   Residual effects of the Eurozone crisis create a cautionary environment.
To read more, please see our Q4 2012 Chicago Market Overview and February MarketBeat here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Silicon Prairie at Work

A commonly referenced bright light amid the troubled economy is our city’s growing entrepreneurial spirit.  Our involvement in the local startup community tells us entrepreneurs, developers, marketers, venture capitalists, and consultants are joining forces to create, collaborate and thrive.  This talented group is actively generating opportunity and reinvigorating our economy; in fact, Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced that 21 Chicago-based technology companies have committed to creating more than 2,000 jobs for the city by 2015.

 Tools for Talent

Growing nearly as fast as our startup community is the infrastructure to foster it:

·      1871- Located in Merchandise Mart, 1871 is a co-working center for digital startups providing affordable workspaces, mentorship, potential investors, and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
·      Lightbank- A venture capital firm focusing on tech startups, Lightbank was founded by Eric Lefkofsky, the co-founder of Groupon.  Lightbank has raised over $1.5 billion in capital and created over $10 billion in equity value.
·      Startup Weekend- This 54-hour event is dedicated to bringing together entrepreneurs, developers, and marketers to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups over the course of a weekend. MB Real Estate is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of Startup Weekend.
·      Dev Bootcamp- This tech training program offers a nine-week intensive training program in web development and is coming to Chicago this spring (read more).  Originating in San Francisco, Dev Bootcamp boasts a 95 percent placement rate with average starting salaries of $85,000.
·      World Business Chicago- Assuring that Chicago is the ultimate global business destination; World Business Chicago is a not-for-profit that helps companies navigate the relocation and expansion process. 
·      Tech Infrastructure- Chicago has the third largest fiber optic capacity of any metro area in the country and is home to three of the world’s largest data centers (read more).  Combined with the city’s free public wireless internet initiatives, Chicago has become one of the most digital cities in the world.
·      Talent Attraction- With several of the nation’s top-ranked universities located in Chicago as well as additional initiatives to draw tech-talent to Chicago, such as the ChicagoNEXT Council and Mayor Emanuel’s recruiting mission at the University of Illinois, Chicago is becoming more and more enticing to talented recent grads.

Start-Up Hotspots

So, where is all the magic happening?  Here is our list of the top five startup office spaces according to the criteria below (ranked 1-5, 5 being the highest):



1.    Affordability- Can a newly established company afford the space?
2.    Community- Are there other creative tenants in the building that can form a support network?
3.    Growth- Does the building have enough vacancy or flexible options to allow for growth?
4.    Landlord- Is the landlord too risk averse for a startup? Will they be friendly to the unique needs of a startup?

For more information about Chicago as an emerging tech hub, click here.

For real estate tips for startups, read here.

For questions/comments or more information about office spaces for startups, please contact Craig McCaw at or 312.558.3830.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, Profit

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak
for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” 

-Dr. Suess

While “speaking for the trees” may suggest only genuine altruism, it is not inconsistent with the idea of the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. Sustainability initiatives have a positive impact on all three of these things and small changes can mean a big impact for more than just the environment.

By the end of 2011, the nearly 16,500 ENERGY STAR certified buildings across America helped to save nearly $2.3 billion in annual utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions from the annual energy use of more than 1.5 million homes. [See Data] In addition to the environmental benefits and cost-savings, ENERGY STAR and LEED certified buildings create more productive and healthy work environments for employees, give the building a competitive advantage in leasing and tenant retention, and create positive press and branding opportunities.

What the City is Doing
Chicago LEEDs the Way
Chicago is ranked as #4 on the list of U.S. cities with the highest number of ENERGYSTAR certified buildings.
  • Sustainable Chicago 2015: Chicago has implemented Sustainable Chicago 2015, an initiative that seeks to create green jobs, upgrade infrastructure, and improve transportation, waste, and water programs by 2015.
  • Retrofit Chicago: A component of Sustainable Chicago 2015 endorsed by the US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, Retrofit Chicago offers energy efficiency approaches for both municipal and commercial buildings:
    • Municipal Buildings: Chicago Infrastructure Trust is a public-private partnership which leverages private investment to fund municipal retrofit initiatives that will reduce energy costs by more than $20 million annually.
    • Commercial Buildings: Large commercial spaces may voluntarily join the Commercial Buildings Initiative with a goal of reducing energy usage by 20% within 5 years.

What You Can Do

Tenant Dependent

In conjunction with macro efforts to make buildings themselves more efficient, building owners and managers can help individual tenants to adopt impactful green habits. See the pictograph below for a snapshot of some of those green habits.  All MB Real Estate managed buildings have access to our Best Environmental Practices guide which offers information and tips on adopting green workplace policies.  To get the comprehensive guide, contact Natalie Stanley at

Simple green practices you can adopt in your office now to save trees and money.
What Gets Measured, Gets Managed
Sustainability reporting is a key way to gain support for green programs and to publicize their success. An example of this is the recycling data below, which is sent out to MBRE tenants via building newsletters. The quantified visual representation of tenant efforts keep sustainability top-of-mind for tenants of MBRE managed buildings.

Recycling accomplishments are celebrated via “Going Green” announcements.
What We are Doing

Our Commitment to a Greener Workplace

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Welcome to Our Team: Jason Kleiman & Anwar Ali

MB Real Estate is pleased to welcome Jason Kleiman and Anwar Ali to our Corporate Services team.  While new to MBRE, Kleiman and Ali are no strangers to the commercial real estate market. We recently sat down with the “dynamic duo” to see what makes them tick.

Jason Kleiman

Senior Vice President | 312.558.3851 |

How did you get your start in Commercial Real Estate?
I actually began my career in sales with an office equipment company. Then, during the dot-com era, like many other eager professionals I moved to LA and worked for a tech startup. It was here where I had my first taste of commercial real estate and assisted with an office lease transaction.  As I became more familiar with commercial real estate, I decided to take my new found knowledge back to Chicago and the rest as they say is history.   I’ve now been in commercial real estate for more than 12 years!

What’s the most interesting deal you have done?
The most interesting deal I worked on was both large scale and challenging. I worked on a national portfolio for a company after a merger.  They had offices in 250 markets and my group was tasked to  consolidate offices in 100 of those markets.  The biggest challenge…the financial terms of the merger required the deals to be completed within 12 months.  It was a process of determining whether to combine offices, sublease spaces, lease a new space, expand, or some combination thereof.  It was like playing Tetris on a national scale...with a time limit!

Why did you choose to join MB Real Estate?
I’ve known the MB Real Estate team for over a decade and it was the professionals that initially attracted me to the company. It’s a very team oriented environment where everyone comes together to  help each other succeed.  I couldn’t wait to join a team like that.

Tell us about yourself.
I’m a wannabe athlete from a family of super athletes.  My first language was French and I lived in Paris until I was 7 years old while my dad studied music composition.  I play the trombone – although not very well.  I love living in the city with my wife.  We are expecting our second child any day now!

What advice would you give to a new broker? How have you been successful?
The brokerage world can be tough.  I have found my success by teaming up with the right people as well as being patient and positive.  The value of relationships should never be undervalued. Building relationships with my clients is the thing I enjoy most about my job and the reason I’m still in the game today.

Anwar Ali

Senior Associate | 312.558.3854 |

How did you get your start in commercial real estate?
I began my career at a boutique tenant rep firm in Chicago in 2008. It was probably about the worst time to enter the business due to the sinking economy and real estate crisis. I’m not afraid of a challenge though,  and in that environment, I learned pretty quickly about the value of hard work and tenacity, so I’m grateful for the experience. It certainly framed my professional philosophies and values.

Tell us about a challenging project you worked on.
I worked on a deal last year for a client that could no longer afford the space they had leased.  The transaction involved a lot of moving parts, some creative negotiation and great timing.  Ultimately I secured them a space in the same building and significantly reduce their costs.  It all goes back to having the drive to work through and around the challenges that come your way.

Any interesting facts about you? What makes you unique?
I’m probably about the only person in this city actually choosing to live in a fourth floor walkup. It is great exercise at least! As for other interesting facts, well, I went to the Czech Republic and Poland to play hockey when I was 12 years old.  The opposing team was about 4 years older than me, so it was another one of those challenging experiences.

Tell us about your outlook on work.
Positivity and persistence are key.  I’ve learned that the outlook you maintain directly affects the outcome, so for me, optimism is a huge factor in success.  I strive to be consistently optimistic and confident…I’m not afraid of a good challenge.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chicago's Hiring Outlook Sees Improvement; New Risks and Opportunities Shape the Recovery

MB Real Estate has released the 2nd Quarter 2012 Chicago Market Overview, a quarterly report that tracks trends, analyzes data, and provides you with our forecast for the Chicago CBD and Suburban office markets.

CBD Highlights:
  • Occupancy increased by 105,000 square feet. Improved demand for Class A and B buildings was muted by weakened demand for Class C.
  • Direct vacancy fell 10 basis points to 15.7 percent. Google is in advanced negotiations to bring a 500,000 square foot new requirement to the CBD.
  • At the end of this year, Hines plans to break ground on a 45-story, 900,000 square foot tower at 444 West Lake.
  • A slow recovery is expected as new job announcements compete against tenants eliminating underutilized space.
Suburban Highlights:
  • Occupancy increased by 509,000 square feet as each submarket experienced positive net absorption.
  • Direct vacancy fell 50 basis points, but remained at a significantly high 23.0 percent.
  • Class A asking rental rates are down 3.1 percent year-over-year, which has likely contributed to positive net absorption.
  • Speculative construction is, and will remain, at a standstill.
  • Vacancy is expected to remain elevated in the near term as the Suburbs lack the demand drivers seen in the CBD.
In addition to the Chicago Market Overview, please reference our in-depth 2nd Quarter 2012 Submarket Snapshots, which include highlights and analysis of each of the Chicago submarkets that MB Real Estate tracks.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

UPDATE: Direct Vacancy Drops as a New Tower is Announced

MB Real Estate has released the June 2012 Marketbeat research report.


Over the past three months, the MB Real Estate (MBRE) Index experienced 128,000 square feet of positive absorption. Demand for Class A space increased in the CBD’s newest buildings for the first time since June 2011. This led the MBRE Index direct vacancy rate to fall to 10.2 percent. While direct vacancy is slightly greater than the 9.9 percent level seen a year ago, the market for premier, Class A space in the CBD remains tight.

The overall CBD, however, experienced negative demand in the first quarter with direct vacancy reaching 15.8 percent. This was largely due to large occupancy losses in Class C buildings. Thus, the spread in vacancy 
rates between the MBRE Index and overall CBD has risen to 5.6 percent, the second largest disparity in tracked history. In the past, the MBRE Index has been a leading indicator for performance in the overall market, and therefore, we expect direct vacancy in the overall CBD to decline within the next two quarters.

Read the Full PDF Version
Read Exclusive-Tight Core Vacancy Proves Chicago Class A Desire; featuring MBRE Research data and Andy Davidson, EVP Corporate Services.