Data indicates strong activity in industrial real estate market

From CoStar’s 2014 Mid-Year Report.
The Chicago Industrial market ended the second quarter
2014 with a vacancy rate of 8.5%. The vacancy rate was
down over the previous quarter, with net absorption
totaling positive 2,303,618 square feet in the second quarter.
Vacant sublease space increased in the quarter, ending the
quarter at 1,416,465 square feet. Rental rates ended the second
quarter at $5.23, an increase over the previous quarter. A
total of five buildings delivered to the market in the quarter
totaling 1,708,735 square feet, with 7,721,186 square feet still
under construction at the end of the quarter.
Net absorption for the overall Chicago Industrial market
was positive 2,303,618 square feet in the second quarter 2014.
That compares to positive 327,193 square feet in the first quarter
2014, positive 6,177,633 square feet in the fourth quarter
2013, and positive 1,375,931 square feet in the third quarter

.ship data
Tenants moving out of large blocks of space in 2014
include: Quantum Foods, LLC moving out of (269,591) square
feet at 550 W North Frontage Rd, Silgan Containers moving
out of (187,850) square feet at 1191 Lake Ave and Channel
Distribution moving out of (165,762) square feet at CMD
Business Park.
Tenants moving into large blocks of space in 2014 include:
Pactiv Corporation moving into 898,560 square feet at
Pinnacle Business Center, Ferrara Candy Company moving into
747,152 square feet at Carlow Corporate Center, and Midwest
Warehouse & Distribution System moving into 650,494 square
feet at Carlow Corporate Center.
The Flex building market recorded net absorption of positive
84,263 square feet in the second quarter 2014, compared
to positive 287,109 square feet in the first quarter 2014, positive
54,574 in the fourth quarter 2013, and positive 212,314 in the
third quarter 2013.
The Warehouse building market recorded net absorption
of positive 2,219,355 square feet in the second quarter 2014
compared to positive 40,084 square feet in the first quarter
2014, positive 6,123,059 in the fourth quarter 2013, and positive
1,163,617 in the third quarter 2013.
The Industrial vacancy rate in the Chicago market area
decreased to 8.5% at the end of the second quarter 2014. The
vacancy rate was 8.7% at the end of the first quarter 2014,
8.7% at the end of the fourth quarter 2013, and 9.0% at the
end of the third quarter 2013.
Flex projects reported a vacancy rate of 12.1% at the end
of the second quarter 2014, 11.9% at the end of the first quarter
2014, 12.3% at the end of the fourth quarter 2013, and 12.4% at
the end of the third quarter 2013.
Warehouse projects reported a vacancy rate of 8.3% at
the end of the second quarter 2014, 8.5% at the end of first
quarter 2014, 8.4% at the end of the fourth quarter 2013, and
8.8% at the end of the third quarter 2013.Rental Rates
The average quoted asking rental rate for available
Industrial space was $5.23 per square foot per year at the end
of the second quarter 2014 in the Chicago market area. This
represented a 1.0% increase in quoted rental rates from the
end of the first quarter 2014, when rents were reported at $5.18
per square foot.
Rental rates
The average quoted rate within the Flex sector was $10.31
per square foot at the end of the second quarter 2014, while
Warehouse rates stood at $4.91. At the end of the first quarter
2014, Flex rates were $10.33 per square foot, and Warehouse
rates were $4.87.accounting for 276,031,840 square feet of Industrial

Sales Activity
Tallying industrial building sales of 15,000 square feet
or larger, Chicago industrial sales figures fell during the first
quarter 2014 in terms of dollar volume compared to the fourth
quarter of 2013.
In the first quarter, 91 industrial transactions closed
with a total volume of $539,789,301. The 91 buildings totaled
13,210,857 square feet and the average price per square foot
equated to $40.86 per square foot. That compares to 154
transactions totaling $637,990,562 in the fourth quarter. The
total square footage was 15,821,506 for an average price per
square foot of $40.32.
Total year-to-date industrial building sales activity in 2014
is up compared to the previous year. In the first three months
of 2014, the market saw 91 industrial sales transactions with
a total volume of $539,789,301. The price per square foot has
averaged $40.86 this year. In the first three months of 2013,
the market posted 85 transactions with a total volume of
$232,203,922. The price per square foot averaged $31.84.
Cap rates have been lower in 2014, averaging 7.37%,
compared to the first three months of last year when they
averaged 8.56%.

Big delays due to I-55 construction @ Arsenal Road, to be completed by Labor Day.

Experienced a significant traffic back-up approaching Arsenal Rd on I-55 in Joliet.  Work on the bridge spanning the Des Plaines River has traffic down to one lane (!!!!) in both directions, see pictures in this post.

Received this update from IDOT:

The work being performed to the structures carrying I-55 over the Des Plaines River in Will County includes repairing the structural steel, patching and resurfacing the bridge decks and cleaning and painting the structures. In 2013 work was done on the southbound structures. This year (2014) work is being performed on the northbound structures. The work is expected to be completed by late August (before the Labor Day holiday). The Illinois Department of Transportation appreciates your patience as we work to repair these 60+ year old structures.

IMG_4710 IMG_4709IMG_4706

Chicago Tribune reports the new Elgin-O’Hare Expressway may not feed into O’Hare

May 03, 2014|By Jon Hilkevitch and Richard Wronski, Tribune reporters

O’Hare western access may look like dead-end
With plans for a western airline terminal on hold, DuPage highway to airport planned to carry traffic to old entrance
Construction worker Shawn Ferrin of Midlothian cuts concrete storm sewer pipe along the eastbound lanes of the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway in Roselle on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. ImageThese expansions are part of the Elgin-O’Hare Western Access Project. The project will be completed in 2018.
(Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
Construction begins in earnest this year on a multibillion-dollar stretch of highway in DuPage County amid a growing sense that its potential to become a long-promised western route to O’Hare International Airport will fall far short of expectations.

Political and business leaders have envisioned a roadway, lined with retailers and other services, that takes passengers to a new western terminal at O’Hare.

But plans for the terminal never got off the ground, and on paper, the road system set to be built by 2025 will be a bypass that will still force air travelers who live west of the airport to circle around to the old eastern entrance.

The situation stems from a decade-old deal involving DuPage County, suburban mayors and the city of Chicago. The county and municipalities agreed to accept new runways and the noise that comes with them, and the city would persuade O’Hare’s biggest airlines to kick in millions of dollars to help build a western terminal that would make a future highway practical.

But while new runways are being built and so is the highway, the airlines are not on board with a new terminal, which might bring in competitors. And without the terminal, the highway appears to be, in effect, a road to nowhere.

It will dead-end at the airport’s western boundary, several miles from the nearest terminal. Those wanting to proceed to the airport will take another new road north or south to get to the old entrance. Or they might one day be able to use a park-and-ride system, featuring 35 to 40 minutes on a shuttle bus.

“No one is going to drive to the west side of O’Hare simply to park and take a bus,” said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, whose community has long supported a western access and bypass roads. “I am always hopeful that lightning strikes and they will build the western access terminal. But I am not going to hold my breath.”

As if that wasn’t frustrating enough for western suburbanites, the new roadways will carry a toll that’s more than three times higher than other area toll roads.

If you build it …

State lawmakers last June approved the long-planned $3.4 billion Elgin-O’Hare Western Access project. It will include an extended Elgin-O’Hare Expressway that intersects with a new north-south tollway skirting O’Hare’s western edge and connecting to the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate 90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).

Even though the Tollway is spending $3.1 billion on the project, there is a $300 million funding gap, which DuPage County and local communities will have to provide. The county has secured about $110 million in funding so far, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

Proponents of the project see underused land stretching east from the western suburbs being transformed into gas stations, restaurants, hotels and shopping centers employing tens of thousands of people.

They point to predictions from an advisory council appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn that say the project will create 13,450 jobs during construction and that future development will lead to 65,000 new jobs by 2040.

“There are 127 square miles of untapped opportunity out there that brokers and developers are excited about,” said Greg Bedalov, president and CEO of Choose DuPage, which markets DuPage County and supports economic development.

“Absent a western access road and absent the needed infrastructure, that day will never come,” he said.

But Bedalov said recent developments are important for a roadway project that “has been baking for some time.”

“Some people say to me, ‘Greg, come on, you are building a road to nowhere.’ But I disagree. Transportation infrastructure is in the team photo of the first three things that developerslook at,” Bedalov said.

Cronin said he supports the idea of western access to a new terminal, but said that day won’t come until an improving economy generates hundreds of additional daily flights at O’Hare, and added that he’s taking heat from constituents in the meantime.

“There are a lot of people, particularly in my neighborhood, who are like, ‘Cronin, what are we signing onto this thing for? Why do you support the toll increase? We don’t even have a commitment that they are going to open up (the road into the airport),’ ” he said.

Cronin said he shares the frustration, but he insists the commitment will be made. “We might be gray, but it will happen,” he predicted.

But for now, the closest thing to true “western access” to O’Hare, when all is said and done with the project, will be a $17 million, fishhook-shaped ramp off York Road, which will dead-end on O’Hare property.

The Tollway agreed to pay for the ramp even though it was not directly connected to the new tollways because it was favored by DuPage County and the local communities, Tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said.

“The Tollway frequently works with local communities to make improvements on existing, adjacent roadways while building or improving interchanges to improve traffic flow,” Rozek said.


Western terminal

The city-suburban deal a decade ago that was to help make a new terminal possible rested on the idea that the former administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley could persuade the biggest commercial carriers at O’Hare, United Airlines and American Airlines, to investmillions annually to pay for their share of the new western terminal campus. It would house more than 50 airplane gates and provide parking facilities for passengers on empty land along the west side of the airport.

But the airlines, which have welcomed new runways to ease flight delays and increase O’Hare capacity, never bought into the city’s plan for terminal expansion, which likely would entice other airlines to compete against the two mega-carriers.

Executives at Chicago-based United and at American have consistently said that two new runways that opened in 2008 and 2013 plus a runway scheduled to debut next year, along with other airfield improvements, are adequate to meet the two carriers’ needs for the foreseeable future.

The airline officials said any future investments will be based strictly on demand and cost efficiencies, not the city’s desire to complete the airfield expansion project, which under the most recent projection released by Chicago aviation officials is estimated to cost $9.7 billion in 2012 dollars.

Asked about the idea of a western terminal, one airline official who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We don’t have a dog in that fight. Who’s going to use the western terminal, anyway? Not us. We have no interest in it.”

And the park-and-ride idea, which in the O’Hare expansion master plan has pointed to a possible extension of either the airport’s people mover transit system or the CTA Blue Line, has been scaled back to a shuttle bus that’s 35 to 40 minutes from the main O’Hare terminals.

For their part, Chicago officials said they are moving to complete O’Hare expansion.

“Our top priorities are to continue progress on the … airfield projects and to continue to coordinate with the state on western access to the airport,” said Karen Pride, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation. “As we’ve said, the western terminal is a demand-driven project.”

The aviation department conducted a study in 2010 that developed several alternatives for the western terminal to possibly serve domestic and international flights as well as provide passenger connections to the main terminal core.

The main purpose of the study was to “ensure that developments on the west side of O’Hare, including the proposed Elgin-O’Hare west bypass, can co-exist,” Pride said.

Quinn’s executive director at the Tollway, Kristi Lafleur, acknowledged there is no assurance of any development on O’Hare’s western edge, but she says the $3.4 billion project around O’Hare represents “an interim step” that would facilitate any future airport expansion.

“We’re not sure Chicago or the Department of Aviation is committed to a western terminal,” Lafleur said.

Johnson said that for years Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino told him and other mayors who were part of the Elgin-O’Hare West Bypass Advisory Council that “Chicago has no intention in the foreseeable future, if not our lifetime, of building the western access terminal.”

“Rosie admitted, because of airline resistance, that they only plan a parking lot with a bus ride to the existing terminals on the east side of O’Hare,” Johnson said. “That’s always been Chicago’s intention. They have never had a history of being good neighbors with the surrounding towns.”

He speculated that a likely scenario would be for Chicago to use some of the vacant airport land to build hotels and restaurants and maybe even an entertainment complex — the same type of projects that officials in DuPage are pushing on the land outside the airport.

“That would be bad for us because it takes away potential business from our communities,” Johnson said.

Andolino did not respond to interview requests by the Tribune.

High priced tolls

Tolls along the Illinois Tollway will cover the lion’s share of the $3.4 billion project, which was part of the reason toll costs systemwide nearly doubled in 2012. But estimates suggest motorists who use the new roads will pay a premium, roughly 20 cents per mile for passenger cars versus the current 6-cents-a-mile average.

That’s the price motorists face for still having to circle the airport and enter from the east, via I-190, and onto the chronically traffic-clogged circular roadway that sits in front of the three domestic airline terminals.

Twitter @jhilkevitch

Twitter @richwronski

Crain’s: Chicago’s tech companies innovating

thThis is story from Crain’s…

Midtronics Inc. came up with a way for a mechanic to safely work on a car battery without getting zapped. That’s not a problem with garden-variety, 12-volt batteries, but it’s a much bigger challenge with the 400-volt monsters that power hybrids and electric vehicles.

Cummins Allison Corp. invented a machine that can take pictures of currency and checks even as they fly past in a blur, and do it in a fraction of the time of older equipment.
Gogo Inc. figured out how to maintain a cellphone signal when the user is in an airplane traveling 600 mph between towers.
Who says all the innovation happens in Silicon Valley?
Those three companies finished at the top of Crain’s Eureka Index, our annual look at the most innovative businesses in Chicago and across the state. The rankings are based on an exclusive analysis of patents by Ocean Tomo LLC, a Chicago-based merchant bank that specializes in evaluating intellectual property.
The Eureka Index highlights both the prolific and the prodigious. It includes giants that produce the most patents, such as aircraft maker Boeing Co., and tiny private companies that do path-breaking work like PowerMag LLC, which is using magnets to heat buildings. Measures include the number of patents awarded, the quality of the patents and a company’s patent productivity.
Willowbrook-based Midtronics, which makes battery-testing equipment, had the highest-rated portfolio of patents granted in 2013. Ocean Tomo’s algorithms assess the uniqueness of an invention in a patent to judge its quality, or the likelihood that it will be developed into a product or maintained by the company, such as by defending it in court.
“If you look at the innovation on this list, we’ve got the latest in new technology, and it’s all happening here in the Midwest,” says Darius Sankey, managing director of Ocean Tomo. “We’ve got an impressive mix. It’s not as concentrated in one or two industries like Silicon Valley or Boston. But that’s Chicago’s strength—it’s so diversified.”

Chicago-based Boeing produced more patents, 760, than it did planes in 2013. By a wide margin, it topped the list of 166 companies that received at least three awards in 2013, according to data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (No. 2 was North Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories, with 576.) It’s the third year in a row Boeing finished in the top spot for total patents.
PowerMag, which is based in shared office space in the John Hancock Center, has just six employees but received seven patents last year for technology originally developed by a prolific Wisconsin inventor, Bob Albertson. That’s the highest output per capita of any company on the list.
Cleversafe Inc., a 10-year-old company that invented a new way of storing massive amounts of computer data, had the second-highest per-capita output at 64 patents per 100 employees. One of the most innovative computer-technology companies built in Chicago, Cleversafe more than quadrupled its patent output last year to 69. It was 16th in total patent output, despite having just 108 employees at the end of 2013. And it was 30th in overall patent quality. “Innovation drives differentiation for Cleversafe,” CEO John Morris says.

When you’re first to innovate in an area, it’s a lot easier to have high-quality patents.
— Doug Mennie, president,
Cummins Allison Corp.
Large companies such as Deerfield-based drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA and Chicago-based cellphone maker Motorola Mobility also performed well. Takeda, which was awarded eight patents, was 12th in patent quality.
Motorola Mobility was 13th in per-capita output at about nine per 100 employees, in part because its patent production has remained relatively constant even as headcount has shrunk dramatically in recent years to fewer than 4,000.
Total patent awards in the U.S. rose nearly 10 percent last year to 302,948. Illinois companies received 5,375 in 2013, up 6 percent. Several people at local companies say their patent numbers increased, in part, because of improvements at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which has sped up reviews and reduced its backlog of applications in recent years.
Cummins Allison pulled off the unusual trick of maintaining high quality while cranking out a lot more patents. The Mount Prospect-based company had the second-highest-rated portfolio, even though its patent output jumped to 38 last year from 10 in 2012. Quality usually goes down as the number of patents rises, which is why only one of the top 10 producers of patents, Abbott, is in the top 10 for quality. Abbott’s 576 patents, with an average score of 138, would rank near the top 10 percent of all U.S. patents.
Cummins Allison topped last year’s quality ranking.
“When you’re first to innovate in an area, it’s a lot easier to have high-quality patents,” says Doug Mennie, president of the company, which is best-known for currency-counting equipment but has moved into check processing in the past couple of years. “To take an image at low speed and low cost is easy. To take an image at high speed and high cost is easy. But to do it at high speed and low cost is very difficult. That’s what we’ve focused on in the past few years.”
<strong>Anand Chari, chief technology officer of in-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo Inc.</strong> Photo: Stephen J. Serio
Anand Chari, chief technology officer of in-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo Inc. Photo: Stephen J. Serio

Cummins Allison’s innovation also is easy to see in its products. Today, it’s selling $10,000 desktop equipment that replaced $1 million machines. The company, which has 500 employees locally and 1,100 total, spends about 20 percent of revenue on research and development.
Itasca-based Gogo, which began developing technology to allow cellphones to work on airplanes more than two decades ago, has been pushing the envelope ever since. All that innovation made Gogo the third-highest-rated portfolio, according to Ocean Tomo.
“Aircraft is the last thing to be connected (to the Internet),” says Anand Chari, chief technology officer, who was Gogo’s first Chicago-area employee in 2006. The company now has more than 500 and will move its headquarters downtown from Itasca. He estimates that two-thirds of the employees have technical backgrounds. “The culture of innovation is out of necessity. . . . We’re in the early stages of in-flight connectivity.”
As more data—from movies to text messages—is traveling over the airwaves, Gogo is finding new ways to compress it. And the company has to make its onboard Wi-Fi gear work with both ground-based cellular towers and satellites.
Oakbrook Terrace-based Redbox Automated Retail LLC received a trio of patents last year related to its signature red kiosks that serve up DVDs and games. It wasn’t a big number of patents, but it vaulted the company to 10th place on the quality scale.
Those 44,000 machines have to be restocked and recalibrated constantly, and machines in different locations have different inventory. Using wireless technology, Redbox figured out ways to handle much of the work remotely. Recently, the company determined how to reconfigure components inside the machines to increase the number of discs they hold by more than 10 percent—without replacing the kiosks themselves.
“There are a lot of moving parts inside,” says Chris Kapcar, vice president of technology services at the company, a unit of Bellevue, Wash.-based Outerwall Inc. “People assume it’s less complicated than it is.”
More than a decade ago, when the first Toyota Prius hybrids started showing up in the U.S., Steve McShane, CEO of Willowbrook-based Midtronics, bought one of the cars to see how it might change his business. The company manufactures equipment to test and charge batteries used in places from car dealerships to auto-parts stores.
“Because we had that Prius early on, we developed technologies that might address the challenges, which are quite different from (those of) traditional lead-acid batteries,” says Chief Technology Officer Kevin Bertness, who has been awarded more than 100 patents over the past 20 years at Midtronics. “Most of the battery voltages in electric vehicles are lethal. That creates some challenges for service. We didn’t know if it was a laboratory curiosity or if it was going to be real. By the time people got serious, we had our (intellectual property) stream in line.”

If you look at the innovation on this list, we’ve got the latest in new technology, and it’s all happening in the Midwest. We’ve got an impressive mix.
— Darius Sankey, Ocean Tomo LLC
Its new equipment is used by Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co. for their electric vehicles. Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Group are evaluating Midtronics’ machines. The company, which employs 240 people, is building an engineering facility in China.
“Our product, while it sounds mundane, it’s far from being commoditized,” Mr. McShane says.
Like Cleversafe (second in per-capita output in 2012), financial-trading software provider Trading Technologies International Inc. (first in per-capita output in 2012) and broadcast-technology maker Sportvision Inc. (15th in patent quality in 2011), Midtronics is a perennial standout on the Eureka Index.
But this year’s list features several newcomers.
Riddell Inc., a Rosemont-based maker of football helmets, was No. 5 on Ocean Tomo’s patent-quality index.
As concern over concussions mounts, the company has applied microprocessors, sensors, wireless transceivers and technologies from other industries to gather data from players on the field and transmit it to the sidelines. The technology was introduced a decade ago and used by about a dozen universities. Last year, the company introduced a less expensive version aimed at high school and youth leagues.
Riddell has increased its R&D staff, both inside and outside the company, by about one-third in recent years, says Thad Ide, senior vice president of research and product development. “Traditionally we were strong in testing, engineering and biomechanics,” he says. “Now we need software, firmware programming, electronics design.”

Culture drives revenue, right?

employees-meeting-1940x900_29876Your Company Culture Can Survive Your Wild Business Success BY 

A positive company culture is often the first casualty of a fast-growing business. Culture expert Paul Spiegelman shares some tips for creating a culture that will grow along with your company.

It’s a common problem facing many fast-growing businesses: How do you maintain the great company culture you had as a young start-up when your company is scaling so rapidly?

Speaking at this year’s Inc. 500|5000 conference, Paul Spiegelman, co-founder of the Inc. Small Giants Community, offered up some insights to that question. It’s a topic he has experience with. Spiegelman grew his business, the Beryl Companies, from three people to 400. After selling it last year to Stericycle, a large public company, Spiegelman stayed on as Chief Culture Officer to tackle the challenge of bringing a positive culture to Stericycle’s more than 14,000 employees. Here are some of the tips he gave attendees on making culture something that can grow along with your business.

1. Make company culture a priority. “Scaling culture is the last thing you’ll have to worry about if you make it the first thing you care about,” says Spiegelman. He suggests instituting a system of processes that makes culture a priority, which will grow naturally with your business as it expands. “No matter what stage you are at, culture needs to be a priority in your business,” says Spiegelman. “It isn’t easy, but there is nothing more fulfilling seeing the impact it makes on the lives of your people.”

2. Never compromise your values. At the heart of any company culture is a core set of values which should never change says Spiegelman. “Use those core values to lead your vision every day. Regardless of whatever other changes your company may face, those values need to remain unchanged.”

3. Don’t tolerate people who aren’t committed. Or, as Spiegelman less delicately puts it, “Get rid of the whiners, losers, and jerks.” Team members that don’t fit into the group can be toxic to a positive culture, so don’t hesistate to get rid of them. “You need to tell your team, ‘We  are on a mission. If you don’t want to be part of that mission, you should go work somewhere else.'” He stressed that once you have made the decision to make culture a priority, then you should have no tolerance for team members who go against that decision.

4. Hire for fit, not skills. There will always be people out there with the skills capable of doing the job. So Spiegelman suggests hiring people that, first and foremost, would work well in your organization. It may take a little longer, but it will pay off in the long term.

The benefits of establishing a strong company culture go beyond just happy employees. Spiegelman stresses that there is a strong correlation between the well-being of your employees and the success of your business. “Happy employees lead to satisfied customers who will want to become loyal customers,” he says. “It all feeds back to the growth and success of your business.”

Link to: Your Company Culture Can Survive Your Wild Business Success | Inc. 5000

SIOR- “The best of the best”

SIOR- “The best of the best”

I am so proud and fortunate to be part of the SIOR global network (  So far in 2013 we’ve needed assistance in 3 national requirements, in 9 cities and every time my SIOR comrade (some who I’ve never met) has provided outstanding service and market information.