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Opportunities and Challenges of Coworking Spaces in Chicago

Published on October 13th, 2023

The landscape of work environments has been changing dramatically over the past few years, with co-working spaces taking cities by storm. Chicago, IL, with its burgeoning tech industry and diverse entrepreneurial landscape, is no exception. As the demand for flexible, affordable, and collaborative work environments continues to grow, what does this mean for commercial real estate in the Windy City?

Let’s delve into the opportunities and challenges that the rise of co-working spaces presents for property owners.


Increased Demand

With the proliferation of startups, freelancers, and remote workers, there is a growing need for flexible workspaces. Traditional leases are often infeasible for these groups due to their long-term commitments and high costs. Coworking spaces offer a solution, thus creating a new category of potential tenants for commercial property owners.

DIversification of Income

Because coworking spaces attract a range of businesses—from one-person startups to larger companies needing satellite offices—property owners can diversify their tenant base. This lowers the financial risk that comes with depending on a single tenant for a significant portion of rental income.

Higher Profit Margins

Coworking spaces are often premium offerings that include amenities like high-speed internet, printing services, meeting rooms, and even cafes. As such, property owners can command higher per-square-foot rates than they might for traditional office spaces.

Community Engagement

Coworking spaces often host networking events, talks, and workshops, turning them into community hubs. This creates a sense of place and can raise the profile of the property, making it more attractive to future tenants.


Upfront Costs

Setting up a coworking space requires significant investment in furniture, technology, and amenities. These initial expenses can be prohibitive for some property owners.

High Turnover

One of the selling points of coworking spaces is the flexibility they offer to tenants. However, this can be a double-edged sword for property owners as frequent turnover requires ongoing efforts for marketing and tenant acquisition.


The popularity of coworking spaces has led to a saturation in some markets, making it difficult for newer spaces to establish themselves. This competition can drive down prices and profit margins.

Regulatory Hurdles

Municipal zoning laws and building codes can sometimes be unclear when applied to coworking spaces, especially if they include non-traditional features like living accommodations or retail spaces. Navigating these rules can be challenging and may require expert legal advice.

Capitalizing on the Trend

To make the most out of the coworking boom, property owners should consider the following:

  • Location, Location, Location: Properties in tech hubs or near transit centers are particularly attractive for co-working spaces.
  • Tiered Offerings: Provide various membership levels to cater to different needs—from hot-desks to private office spaces.
  • Partnerships: Partner with local businesses to offer additional perks like discounted gym memberships or cafe deals, making your space more attractive.
  • Community Building: Engage a community manager to organize events and nurture a sense of community among members. This can be a selling point for potential tenants and can create a network effect that attracts more members.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with local laws and regulations to ensure compliance and to take advantage of any incentives or grants that may be available for such business models.

The rise of Chicago coworking spaces presents both opportunities and challenges for commercial real estate owners. While the market’s expansion is exciting, it is essential to carefully weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks. By working with a commercial real estate professional, you can enhance your chances for success. With the right strategy, commercial property owners can not only diversify their income streams but also contribute to shaping the future of work in Chicago.

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Frontline Real Estate Partners, LLC

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Highland Park, IL 60035

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