Top 5 Midwestern Markets for Office Transaction Volume

The metros account for nearly 80 percent of the region’s 2020 sales volume through December, based on CommercialEdge data.

The Midwest had been experiencing steady growth due to a solid wave of new development, business expansion and suburban sprawl before the pandemic hit. The economic slowdown has prompted investors to become more cautious. Total transaction volume in the region amounted to some $3.6 billion year-to-date through December, less than half of the $7.4 billion sold over the same period last year, according to CommercialEdge data.

The metros on the list below account for nearly 80 percent of the region’s total transaction volume, with stabilized markets such as Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul leading the way. Investors closed most deals in the first two quarters of 2020, picking up the pace again toward year-end.

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Rank Market Properties Sold Square Footage Sold (MM) Transaction Volume (MM)
1 Chicago 51 7.8 $1891.74
2 Minneapolis-St. Paul 36 4.5 $460.53
3 Milwaukee 18 1.6 $208.84
4 Detroit 29 2.8 $156.91
5 Indianapolis 21 1.7 $146.75

5. Indianapolis

OrthoIndy South

Investment volume in Indianapolis totaled some $147 million year-to-date through December, 70 percent less than last year’s $494 million. Transaction activity was concentrated in suburban areas and more than half of the deals closed in the first quarter of the year.

In January, OrthoIndy acquired 1260 Innovation Parkway in Greenwood from Welltower. The 77,600-square-foot medical office building, known as OrthoIndy South, traded for $51.8 million and currently operates as a walk-in clinic. Welltower emerged as the market’s biggest seller, having traded five other medical office buildings in Carmel, Greenwood and Anderson. Three of these were purchased by MB Real Estate as part of a 34-property health-care portfolio.

4. Detroit

Troy Technology Park

The Detroit market was experiencing dynamic growth prior to the health crisis. Soon after the onset of the pandemic, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors suspended vehicle production indefinitely. However, the slowdown is expected to be temporary. A total of 29 properties encompassing 2.8 million square feet changed ownership year-to-date through December for a combined $157 million; 22 sales closed in the first quarter of the year. All assets—except for one property located at 7441 Second Ave. in Detroit—were located in the suburbs.

The $70 million sale of Troy Technology Park in Troy, Mich., represented the largest office sale in the market year-to-date. Apex Equity Group and New York-based Mich Capital purchased the five-building, 425,777-square-foot office campus in October. Among major deals that closed in the first quarter were two office portfolios totaling some 644,000 square feet that changed hands in January and March, respectively. The largest property comprises three office buildings encompassing 355,000 square feet, also located in Troy. A.F. Jonna Development & Management Co. acquired the asset from Kelly Services.

3. Milwaukee

Despite the economic fallout, the Milwaukee market remained on steady ground. Moreover, the market is expected to attract investor interest going forward due to its affordability, geographic positioning and untapped workforce potential. Close to 1.6 million square feet of office space changed hands for $209 million year-to-date through December, with total transaction volume down by 39 percent from last year’s $343 million. This year’s deals consisted of single-asset transactions evenly distributed across all quarters.

North Hills Medical Center

The largest office deals year-to-date include medical office buildings. Last month, Montecito Medical Real Estate acquired Aurora Health Medical Office Building, a 130,000-square-foot, fully leased asset in Greenfield, Wisc. Cobalt Partners sold the 2019-built property for $74 million. In a separate deal, IRA Capital paid The Excelsior Group $60 million for North Hills Medical Center, a 118,000-square-foot property in Menomonee Falls, Wisc.

2. Minneapolis – St. Paul

A total of 36 office deals comprising more than 4.5 million square feet closed this year through December in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. These amount to $461 million, representing a 71 percent decline in transaction volume compared to last year’s $1.6 billion. The bulk was concentrated in suburban submarkets, predominantly in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Westgate Business Center I

Link Logistics emerged as the market’s most-active buyer, having acquired six properties from CSM Corp. for $69.9 million. Five buildings are located within Dell Five Business Park in Chanhassen, Minn., and Westgate Business Center in St. Paul. In a separate deal, Angelo, Gordon & Co. sold Optum Headquarters, a 450,000-square-foot asset in Eden Prairie. The $52.1 million deal closed in July and represented the largest single-asset sale in the market year-to-date through December.

1. Chicago

McDonald’s Corporate Headquarters

Chicago is experiencing a strong suburban office revival, with half of its office transactions having closed in suburban submarkets. A total of 48 office properties consisting of 7.6 million square feet traded year-to-date, with transaction volume amounting to $1.9 billion. Office sales in the metro neared the $2.3 billion mark, equal to a 16 percent slip—the smallest decline on the list.

The largest office deal in the metro—and in the region—was Normandy Partners’ acquisition of McDonald’s Corporate Headquarters in Chicago. Sterling Bay completed the 596,000-square-foot property in 2018 and sold it for a record-breaking $412.5 million. In Chicago’s central business district, another building headquarters sale marked the second-largest office deal completed year-to-date. SHVO acquired the CNA Headquarters building for $376 million from The John Buck Co.