In 1971 McDonald’s Corporation moved its offices from the Loop to a sprawling 80 acre campus in the western suburbs of Chicago. The company’s intent was to offer its employees a serene setting closer to many of their homes. In 2015, Steve Easterbrook was named CEO of the company and he quickly implemented major changes at the fast food giant, including an office search in downtown Chicago.
After leaving a deal for office space in the East Loop of the city, McDonald’s pivoted to the West Loop/Fulton Market area where Sterling Bay controlled the former site of Harpo Studios, which the firm had purchased in 2014 and leased back to OWN through January of 2015. Plans for a multi-tenant office building had been developed for the site and discussions with multiple potential tenants were underway.
Sterling Bay recognized it was the only developer controlling a large enough parcel of land in the area to construct a headquarters building for McDonald’s. In addition, the location on Randolph’s “Restaurant Row” and proximity to transportation made it a clear choice for the corporation. Sterling Bay worked with McDonald’s and building architect Gensler to custom design a nine-story 500,000 square foot headquarters featuring underground parking, a retail level and outdoor space on the upper floors. A lease was negotiated and signed in an unprecedented two-month timeframe. In July of 2015, demolition of the former building began. McDonald’s moved 2,500 jobs downtown when it occupied the building in 2018.Learn more about McDonald’s HQ