McDonald’s has long been a presence in the Chicago suburbs, running an Oak Brook, Illinois-based headquarters building that is home to more than 2,000 employees. That facility also houses the famous Hamburger University, a training facility for managerial staff.
But, following a trend among a growing number of retailers, McDonald’s might soon be moving its headquarters from Oak Brook to downtown Chicago, targeting the former home of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in the city’s Fulton Market district.
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Harpo Studios will be demolished to make room for a new 300,000-square-foot space for McDonald’s. Developer Sterling Bay, which spent $30.5 million for the property in 2014, has been targeted to build the new headquarters, according to Crain’s.
What isn’t known yet is what will happen to the Oak Brook headquarters. McDonald’s officials have not yet said what they plan to do with this building if the company does move its headquarters to Chicago.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see McDonald’s move its headquarters to the city. Several retailers have already moved their headquarters buildings from the suburbs to urban areas. In a recent interview with Midwest Real Estate News — not about McDonald’s plans — Jeff Berta, senior director of real estate development with Chicago’s Structured Development, said that urban locations have a pull on retailers today.
“In today’s world, retailers are increasingly seeking out urban locations. Suburban retail development is definitely slower,” Berta said. “That’s not to say that there isn’t any new retail development in the suburbs. There are select suburban markets that are seeing stable retail growth. But by and large, especially for ground-up or new retail development, there has lately been a significant focus on the urban side of things.”