2 MIN READ – In a move that serves as a plus for the Loop’s office space occupancy, advertising firm Havas is moving to the recently redeveloped Marshall Field building from its previous approximately 92,000 square foot River North office.
“The company confirmed it has signed a lease for about 33,000 square feet on the 11th floor at 24 E. Washington St.
The sharp reduction in space is part of a trend that has shaken up the downtown office market since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies embracing the advent of remote work have reaffirmed their need for workspace, but far less of it. The weakened demand has pushed the downtown office vacancy rate to a record high and set off a wave of distress that has sapped some of the vitality of the city's urban core.
For Havas, the shifting balance of in-person and remote work — combined with a lease expiration approaching in October — pushed the company to hunt for new space rather than spending what it deemed would be a seven-figure investment to redesign the existing space with technology and rooms for virtual conferencing and other post-COVID needs.
After touring buildings in several parts of downtown, Havas Chicago leadership landed on the historic Marshall Field building as a great combination of modern workspace and a vintage building that is well-suited to the creative work the agency does, said Havas Chicago Chief Creative Officer and President Myra Nussbaum.
‘We can build our dream there," said Nussbaum, who joined the company in 2021. "It fits us on so many levels…Creative (people), when we work, we don't necessarily want to be trapped at a desk. That was a huge appeal of this building,’ Nussbaum said.
Yet the company, which has about 330 Chicago-based employees, is keeping its options open to take more space as it gauges return-to-office trends. Nussbaum said Havas has a right of first refusal to take another 30,000-plus square feet on its floor.
Havas' drastic space cutback is frustrating for many downtown office landlords. But the lease adds to a run of victories for Brookfield Properties, the developer that turned six floors above the Macy's State Street flagship store into 650,000 square feet of offices just as the public health crisis was beginning — a difficult time to lease up space.
With a steady flow of companies signing on since then, the building is now close to 70% leased, according to a person familiar with the property. That's just below the 76% average for downtown office buildings. Recent additions include specialty insurance firm Argo Group, agribusiness giant Olam International, and third-party logistics company Spot.
Havas, which is a subsidiary of Paris-based media conglomerate Vivendi, is best known as an advertising agency but also provides public relations and other marketing services.”
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