CHICAGO-Most office experts were somewhat off – building new in downtown Chicago was supposed to have been at least a year or two away – but a number of companies including Hines have come forward with one-million-square-foot building plans for the city, even as vacancy rates rise to more than 15%.

Most are crediting the few large block users circling the downtown for 100,000 square feet or more, while there is only a dozen or so available properties. However, that’s only part of the story, says Rich Gatto, EVP at the locally based Alter Group. The residential push in the past 10 years, bringing many high-rise condo and apartment towers to the downtown, has met up successfully with the recent trend by graduates who want to live in a 24-hour city, he says.

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