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seven to 10 years,” says Robert Roe, a managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s
Great Lakes Region. As a result, companies that need space have cast their eyes
on the ready-made structures that cluster
underutilized in many CBDs.
In 2012, for example, BrandMuscle, a
fast-growing Ohio-based software firm, left
its suburban headquarters and settled
about 150 employees in Downtown
Cleveland. And several years earlier, the
Rosetta Marketing Group LLC also moved
about 400 employees from the Ohio suburbs into the city.
“They took what are traditional, boring-looking buildings, but on the inside, they
look like Silicon Valley offices,” says Roe.
This type of migration has happened
across the Midwest, even outside Chicago’s
burgeoning CBD, as companies remake
themselves for the next generation of
“The 20-something is looking to be in a
different work environment than the
50-something,” adds Roe. The sterile
office parks of the suburbs hold no attrac-
tion for the young, who prefer the activity
and social life of dense urban cores. “What
we have to have is a reason for people to
stick around after 5 p.m.” Business and
political leaders in the region seem to
understand this preference and for years
have been sponsoring new stadiums and
A rendering of Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s Downtown Detroit campus, where the company recently
concentrated an operation that had been split between city and suburbs.