Walgreen exit would be painful prescription for north suburbs

    Anyone looking for 1.7 million square feet of decades-old office space?

    That’s the difficult question north suburban officials — and landlords — hope they won’t have to ask in the wake of yesterday’s news that Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. could be the next major office tenant to decamp for Chicago.

    Crain’s Chicago reported Thursday that the drugstore giant, which moved its headquarters from the Northwest Side to the north suburbs in 1975, has been eyeing the Old Main Post Office as a potential home for thousands of employees now on and around Lake Cook Road in Deerfield and Northbrook.

    The mere notion of losing a Fortune 500 company, and one of the Chicago area’s most recognizable corporate names, is jarring to a suburban office market that has been much slower to recover from the recession than the downtown Chicago office market.

    “That’s a seismic move if they do that,” said veteran north suburban leasing broker Charlie Portis, a senior vice president at Chicago-based J.F. McKinney & Associates Ltd. “For them to flee Deerfield, emotionally that would be a shocker.”

    Nearly one-quarter of the overall space in the suburbs is vacant, not helped by recent deals downtown by Motorola Mobility from Libertyville, Gogo Inc. from Itasca and Hillshire Brands Co. from Downers Grove, claiming nearly 1.1 million square feet of space downtown while leaving huge suburban holes in their wake.

    Read more in Crain’s Chicago Business.

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