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CHICAGO—Yesterday, JLL held its Chicago 2025 forecast event. I’ll have more to say about the event on Monday, but a notable aspect was the location. Rather than the typical downtown hotel, all of which begin to look the same after a while, JLL brought several hundred of the region’s commercial real estate players to Venue West, an event space at 221 N. Paulina St. on the Near West Side. It was definitely a statement by JLL on where they think professionals will focus their attention in the next seven years. The spot still feels a bit out of the way, but it’s just to the west of 1KFulton, the regional headquarters of Google and now a thriving office and retail hub. Chris Kelly, the co-founder of Convene, which creates amenity centers for entire buildings and even portfolios, was the keynote speaker. He sketched out a grand vision of where commercial real estate can go. Although some have said rental rates are hitting a ceiling, he believes that the new commercial model, where tenants are wrapped in experiences and amenities, will greatly boost the value of real estate. He drew an analogy with what has happened with phones. Consumers who once would never pay more than $150 for a flip phone now think nothing of buying an iPhone for $900.

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.

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