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With vacancy rates hitting 18% during the pandemic, Chicago's landlords have had to look for new ways to lease space

Inside the platform Chicago landlords use to cut vacancy rates

From Tishman Speyer to Hines and Ivanhoe Cambridge, several leading real estate owners in Chicago have backed a proptech platform to reverse growing vacancy rates.

Swivel, a tool for marketing, leasing and planning commercial real estate, is working at 16 properties across Chicago after signing up eight landlords in its first year in the city.

Vacancy rates in the city rose to 18% during the pandemic, up from 10-12%, pre-Covid.

JLL Chicago said the platform was “instrumental” in leasing spaces at Hines/Ivanhoe Cambridge’s 180 North LaSalle in Chicago’s central business district, while JLL Spark has previously invested in Swivel.

What does Swivel do?

Swivel is an office visualisation tool that allows tenants, designers and architects to work together with a building’s owner to create digital twins.

Owners can give prospective tenants an interactive 3D tour of office space using Swivel Virtual Tours.

Swivel’s planning tool then allows tenants to visualise and try out potential lay-outs that fit their needs. Once they occupy the space, they can quickly reconfigure space as and when they need – which is particularly important as companies work out their future office needs, post-pandemic.

Because all these conversations between each party happens on one platform, Swivel’s pitch centres on it saving everyone time.

Swivel’s growth to date

The platform has expanded to more than 100m sq ft across the US. The company said that it has generated a 17.75x return on investment for landlords with vacant space.

Scott Harmon, CEO of Swivel, said: “The pandemic fallout sent shockwaves through the commercial real estate industry as landlords and their leasing teams realised they needed to find new ways to attract and engage prospective tenants without sacrificing their bottom line.

“The dynamic, immersive nature of virtual tours present a unique opportunity to expand reach while offering a safe and highly detailed experience. We’ve seen this combination deliver terrific value to our customers time and time again, particularly in the kinds of high-density, tier-one buildings that populate Chicago’s downtown.” 

Swivel’s Chicago portfolio includes:

  • 33 West Monroe and 30 North LaSalle for AmTrust Realty Corp./JLL Chicago
  • 180 N LaSalle for Hines/Ivanhoe Cambridge/JLL Chicago
  • 515 N State for Beacon Capital Partners/JLL Chicago
  • 30 South Wacker, 525 West Monroe, 222 West Adams for Tishman Speyer
  • International Tower (8550 West Bryn Mawr Ave.) for Golub & Company
  • 20 North Clark, 200 West Monroe, and 230 West Monroe for Accesso Partners
  • 311 South Wacker and Old Orchard Towers for Zelle

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