When the now-embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced, shortly after his 2011 election, his plan to create an infrastructure trust, the idea sounded pretty good — at first. When the details came out — that the trust would be a private, opaque financing platform separate enough from government to not be beholden to public inquiry or FOIA requests — many privatization-weary Chicagoans braced for the worst. And why not? It turns out that so many Wall Street style “innovations” in real estate and infrastructure finance (the Chicago-style TIF comes to mind) do less to address civic need than they do to provide unaccountable disbursements to developers of already-desirable city land.
Localism is inevitable sometimes in real estate. But when the topic is huge metro areas, at least some macro trends tend to hold up across different metro areas. The flow of investment capital to Chicago’s downtown office market may not tell much about similar flows to CBDs in Dallas or to New York, but the ways in which capital is matched with office demand are worth study no matter what market you’re in.
This week’s Chicago State Of Office conference (follow the link for a description of the conference panel) took a good look at the Chicago central business district’s sell and buy sides for office square footage.