When the Chicago office of Studley was hired by the Big Ten Conference near the end of 2010 to help think through its real estate needs, Executive Managing Director Robert Sevim knew it was a big job. The conference had been in their Rosemont headquarters at 1500 W. Higgins Rd. for more than 20 years, but had outgrown the small, roughly 25,000-square-foot building, and could have opted for any number of solutions including renovation, expansion, or selling it and renting a new space, or developing a new headquarters from scratch.
They didn't necessarily have all the answers,” Sevim says, but during a six-month strategic planning process, “we looked at every possible solution.” And although many companies have recently decided to leave the suburbs and settle downtown, for the Big Ten this possibility was dismissed rather early.
“There are solutions that satisfy your real estate needs, and there are solutions that satisfy your hiring needs,” he explains. Google and others that have chosen to relocate downtown want to attract a younger set of employees, but the Big Ten was not specifically looking for young, tech talent that it needed to satisfy by providing an urban lifestyle.
In fact, the more they studied it, the more the decades-old decision to set up shop in Rosemont made sense. “For them, having access to hotels and access to the airport is key,” Sevim says, since officials from the Big Ten's 14 schools constantly stream in for meetings, and usually need to leave quickly. Therefore, although Studley began studying the various possibilities within a large radius, it quickly shrank down to what properties were available in the Rosemont, Des Plaines and O'Hare areas.
But that presented another problem. “For their size requirement, there was nothing that presented an opportunity to just go in and open up shop.” Conference officials had decided that the organization needed about 50,000-square-feet of space, or about double the size of the old headquarters, and “most of the buildings in that size range in Rosemont are already occupied,” frequently by an owner committed to the space...Big Ten Recommits Long-Term to Rosemont
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