A ‘Rocky, Windy, Bumpy Road’: Chicago Women Leaders Predict Tough Times Ahead

Three years of pandemic, a turbulent Chicago office market, and economic pressures from rising interest rates and a hostile lending environment have taken a toll on the city — and its women leaders are predicting more potholes along the way before the industry can count on a smoother ride.

“I think it's gonna be a pretty rocky, windy, bumpy road as we go throughout the year,” Avison Young principal and Managing Director Damla Gerhart said at Bisnow’s Chicago Women Leading Real Estate event March 30 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk. “It's taking a lot more creativity in terms of the work that we're doing and trying to put deals together and getting our clients to understand a world beyond, maybe, the next two years.”

BisNow women in commercial real estate

The event brought together some of the biggest players in the city’s commercial real estate scene, honoring 25 of them as Chicago’s top game-changers and deal-makers. 

But among the celebration came sober recognition that transactions have slowed to a trickle, a number of sectors, particularly office, are in a deep trough and strong leadership has never been more important.

Tricia Trester, head of client solutions for Chicago-based Cresa, said the past several months have been ones of reckoning for CRE. For too long, she said, the business community has clung to hope the world would get back to a semblance of normalcy after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, that workers would eventually return to the office and employers would abandon work-from-home and hybrid schedules.

“And I think it's really settling in that it's going to be different forever,” she said.

Trister said she is seeing occupiers finally biting the bullet and taking stock of space needs, a trend she expects to continue.

Read the full article on BisNow.