Chicago’s most influential commercial real estate owners and landlords are attracting tech companies by increasing the connectivity in their properties through an effort to score buildings with digital certifications.
To date, 25 buildings totaling more than 26 million square feet have been committed to scoring their digital connectivity through WiredScore, and 16 leading owners and developers, including EQ Office, Hines, Beacon Capital, and Farpoint Development, among others, have partnered to bring state-of-the-art connectivity to the metropolis, the company says.
The move marks the next step in making Chicago a hotbed for innovation. The city ranked among the top 10 tech innovation hubs globally, alongside Shanghai, New York, and Berlin, in a recent 2017 KPMG report ranking, and was named as one of the top cities for Silicon Valley-based tech companies’ outbound expansion.
“Chicago is proud to welcome WiredScore into our offices, buildings, and businesses. This underscores our continued commitment to creating new technology to foster growth, support innovation and drive entrepreneurship throughout every corner of our city,” said Rahm Emanuel, mayor of the City of Chicago.
“Whether it’s a historically significant building like The Wrigley Building or a development coming out of the ground today, it is essential that buildings can deliver a reliable, resilient and robust digital infrastructure to support the business needs of Chicago occupiers,” said Christine Torres, WiredScore’s Head of Chicago in an interview with In-Building Tech.
“When we discuss what landlords are doing in the current market to stay competitive, what really defines the tenant experience is that it all goes back to one main driver…connectivity and, ultimately, the infrastructure in place to promote that connectivity,” Torres said.
Trends driving digital connectivity
Massive increases in computing power, artificial intelligence-based technology, the deployment of IoT devices, and workplace retention trends have been driving the demand for connectivity and digital infrastructure and leasing decision-makers are recognizing the importance of staying connected.
“If our internet goes down, we’re losing way more than $100,000 an hour in productivity. However, it also goes past that. When we were looking at office space, it wasn’t just connectivity, but it was also where can we move that gives my employees happiness and peace of mind and lifestyle?,” said Brad Weisberg, CEO and founder of Snapsheet, for whom finding space that promotes employee productivity and fosters happiness in the office is critical.
Not only is it essential for CRE leaders to understand what tenants are seeking in terms of connectivity in today’s market, it is also important to be able to clearly and efficiently showcase an asset’s best-in-class digital infrastructure, said Sara Spicklemire, Senior Vice President, CBRE, who underscored the importance bringing transparency into the leasing process through digital certifications.
A report from Radius Global found 77% of decision-makers would sign a lease more quickly with the assurance that tech infrastructure meets the organization’s business requirements.
Digital connectivity is now recognized as crucial means of not only competitively differentiating oneself in the commercial real estate marketplace but is also critical to fostering a sense of community, especially for emerging tenant class of coworking operators like WeWork, Industrious, and others.
“All of these individual elements that we talk about relative to the amenity arms race, they can’t really exist without the connectivity aspect. The connectivity aspect is what allows us to create community, that’s your first step, and it’s the most important step. All the rest of those things, you can figure out a way to do — the rooftop decks, the nap pods, and so on,” said Bob Six, the chief operating officer of Zeller Realty, a commercial property investment and management firm in Chicago.