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In The News

Commercial Real Estate Sector Still Struggles with Higher Interest Rates

April 11, 2024 - As the commercial real estate sector continues to struggle from the impact of higher interest rates, some recent economic data could delay any rate reductions. According to this Bisnow story, a recent 3.5% increase in the Consumer Price Index could prompt the Federal Reserve to push back its timeline for lowering rates. Many economists predicted that rates would be lowered in the first half of this year, but this new economic data has put those projections in question.

For property owners, this could mean halting new projects or renovations, selling assets or handing keys back to lenders. There could be a silver lining, though, as owners give up on waiting for rates to go down – and start transacting again.

The Power of Experienced Property Tax Attorneys

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April 9, 2024 - In a recent story in the IL Real Estate Journal, O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes Member Brian Forde talks to the complexity of the Cook County property tax system and how values can sometimes be assessed improperly. Cooks County government assessing officers oversee nearly 2 million real estate parcels, handling that load with about 250 staff members.

“That’s why it’s important to have property reviewed by someone outside of government who understands the system and can determine if the assessment is in line with similar properties,” he says.

Brian Forde Named to Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame

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February 19, 2024 - Congratulations to Brian Forde on being inducted into the Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame. Brian has spent more than 25 years fighting for Illinois property owners in real estate taxation appeals matters and litigation. During his long career, Brian has taken on a wide variety of cases for his clients, primarily in the industrial, retail and commercial property sectors. This includes handling complex cases of all types of administrative and property tax litigation.

As noted in this Midwest Real Estate News story (on page 26), Brian’s key achievements are:

  • His willingness to fight tirelessly for his clients' best interests
  • The impressive client roster he has built that includes national and regional developers, institutional investors, corporate campuses and small to mid-size businesses.
  • His focus on superior client service and always working to keep clients happy.

“The most satisfying part of the job is knowing that we actually made a difference for our client so they can better sleep at night, make payroll a little less burdensome or take a little stress off the next college tuition payment,” he says.

Commercial Real Estate Outlook 2024

January 2, 2024 - After nearly two years of interest rate hikes and headwinds in the commercial real estate sector, there are some positive shifts ahead. According to this Bisnow story, here are the key events to watch for as the year unfolds:

  • A gradual lowering of interest rates, as the Federal Reserve backs off of its inflation-fighting boost to rates. Two to three rate cuts are possible in 2024, depending on market conditions. Any rate cuts are expected to start around mid-year
  • Continued distress in the office sector due to the lingering impact of work-from-home sentiments that have impacted occupancy rates, and other factors.
  • More softening in the multifamily sector due to record new supply
  • Higher insurance costs due to climate change and other factors

Continued Decline in Chicago Office Sector

December 31, 2023 - Conditions in Chicago’s office sector continue to worsen, with 1.6 million square feet (msf) of negative absorption recorded in the Central Business District in 2023. A recent Transwestern report notes that the West Loop experienced the most negative absorption, mostly due to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange leaving nearly 200,000 square feet of office space at 550 W. Washington Blvd.

The report noted that tenants leased 1.5 msf of office space in the CBD in the last quarter of 2023, bringing the yearly total to 6.4 msf, significantly less than the annual average of 10.3 msf leased in the 10 years prior to COVID-19. Average market rents increased slightly during the quarter, from $42.06 from $41.71 in Q4 2033.

See this REJournals story for more.

O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes adds Emily Barraza as Attorney

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November 2023 - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes has added Emily Barraza as an attorney at the firm. She will focus on real estate property tax appeals for the firm’s Chicago area residential clients. Barraza previously worked as a
law clerk with the firm.

Prior to joining O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, Barraza was a law clerk with Asonye & Associates in Chicago. In that position she drafted and filed court documents, including complaints, discovery requests and responses, for immigration and employment cases. She was previously a legal assistant at Driver Defense Team in Chicago in 2019.

Barraza received her J.D. degree from the Chicago Kent School of Law earlier this year, with a Certificate in Labor and Employment Law, and passed the Illinois Bar Exam with a score high enough to practice in any UBE jurisdiction. She was an active member of the Hispanic Latinx Law Student Association, the Secretary of the Labor and Employment Law Society, and Vice President of the Student Humanity Network.

Uncertainty, Rising Interest Rates Continue to Impact Market Activity

October 2023 - The commercial real estate industry continues to battle the headwinds from inflation and rising interest rates, according to CORFAC’s mid-2023 Business Impact Survey. Members reported a moderately leveling of activity compared with the last half of 2022. The overall transaction volume increased this year for about one quarter of respondents, was stable for 35% of respondents and decreased for 35%.

Members expressed concerns about inflation, along with how remote work trends are impacting business. They also noted bank failures and high construction material costs as concerning factors. More than 70% of respondents said their greatest worry was the prospect of a recession.

From the investment perspective, 81% of survey respondents said higher interest rates and issues with the availability of capital are major factors impacting a slowing in transaction activity.

Brokers did note some bright spots, however. The strong job market and favorable hiring trends were key factors in their positive outlook. Also, construction material delivery times have improved.

According to this REJournals story, survey respondents were spread between the industrial/manufacturing sector and the office sector.

A Recap of Industrial Activity

June 2023 - The industrial sector has seen a softening of demand recently, as occupiers move into a more normalized flow of goods after the surge seen during the pandemic. Activity is expected to continue at a strong pace, however. According to the IL Real Estate Journal, the rise in e-commerce and related distribution has kept industrial leasing and investment at a solid pace. This activity is driven in part by companies that are restructuring their supply chain operations to prepare for the future. And, companies are increasing the onshoring of goods in the U.S., which has helped support warehouse occupancy.

There are headwinds in this sector, however, as some large tenants slow their leasing activity. Amazon, for example, has undertaken a second round of leasing contraction after taking on a significant amount of space during the pandemic. And, capital markets deal-making has been stalled in many markets, as investors navigate the higher interest rate environment.

O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes adds Commercial Tax Litigator W. Chris Beck

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May 2023 - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes has added W. Chris Beck as an attorney of the firm. An experienced commercial tax litigator, he will focus his practice on property tax appeal and litigation services for corporate, institutional and entrepreneurial businesses in Chicago and on a national basis.

Beck has extensive experience in real estate tax litigation and planning on a national level and has represented Fortune 500 corporations, private equity firms, institutions and entrepreneurial businesses in more than 20 states representing all regions of the country.

Prior to joining O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, Beck was an attorney with Neal Gerber & Eisenberg in Chicago. He previously worked as a Commercial Analyst at the Cook County Board of Review, serving in that role from 2010 to 2017.

Chicago’s Office Market Declines in Q1 2023

April 2023 - Chicago’s office market has experienced significant decline over the past year, as work-from home policies have shifted many workers away from the office. Property owners are facing high vacancy rates as companies try various approaches to entice workers back to the office. According to Connect Media, the Chicago office market saw continued decline in Q1 2023, with direct vacancy rates increasing by 110 basis points to reach 19.7% and the amount of sublease space reaching new highs. Net absorption totaled negative 781,453 square feet, according to Transwestern research.

One bright spot is the Fulton Market District, which is attracting tenants with its trendy new buildings and top-tier amenities. Much of that growth has come from tenants moving from other Chicago office submarkets, including the Central Loop.

Industrial Sublease Space Increases

February 2023 - Industrial occupiers turned back a significant amount of space in 2022, according to this Bisnow story, which notes details from Colliers. The total square footage of industrial sublease space grew by nearly 46% in spaces larger than 200,000 square feet. Amazon, a top driver of the industrial boom in recent years, put 30 million square feet of warehouse space on the sublease market. This involved closing several facilities in 2022 and postponing some new openings. While Amazon is a prominent factor in the growing sublease segments, Colliers noted that the manufacturing sector added the most industrial space to the sublease market over the past year.

Tax Bills Due Date Delayed

January 2023 - The due date for first installment property tax bills is usually March 1. This year, the due date for the first installment 2022 tax bills has been deferred to Monday, April 3, 2023. The extra month is meant to give taxpayers a bit of breathing room after the delay in the 2021 second installment bills which were just due last week.

The first installment tax is always 55% of the prior year’s total tax. The bills will be mailed approximately 1 month prior to the due date.

A Look at Last Year's CRE Gains and Losses

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January 2023 - Chicago's commercial real estate market saw many changes in 2022, from the sale of major buildings to several corporate relocations out of the city. Among the key events highlighted this Bisnow story are:

  • Google purchasing the iconic James R. Thompson Center for $105 million, bringing a renewed sense of hope for the Loop building.
  • A city initiative to transform aging and mostly vacant office buildings into new multifamily units.
  • The promise of hundreds of highly paid new jobs and millions in economic activity from a new Bally's casino development in River West.

There was also much uncertainty, however, as the downtown office market experience a significant increase in vacancy and major corporations announced plans to leave the city.

Brian Forde Comments on Property Tax Issues for Bisnow Story

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September 2022 - Property taxes are one of the biggest threats to market growth and long-term investor interest in Chicago, according to a survey of commercial real estate professionals highighted in this Bisnow story. Brian Forde provided commentary for the story, highlighting concerns of many
real estate practitioners and how uncertainty over taxing levels is impacting decision-making.

The story cited an analysis by O'Keefe Lyons & Hynes earlier this year projected that Chicago area commercial assessments could increase as
much as 75% under Cook County Tax Assessor Fritz Kaegi, who is in the process of shifting some of the tax burden from residential to commercial taxpayers. Given these efforts and the delay in finalizing tax bills, there is considerable uncertainty, which could force taxing bodies to borrow funds until they receive their tax allocations.

Return to Work Challenges Impacting Chicago Office Market

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August 2022 - According to a Chicago 2022 Mid-Year Sentiment Report, many companies are still struggling with getting employees back to the office, which is having a significant impact on Chicago area office occupancy levels. The report was produced by The Real Estate Center at DePaul University and The Urban Land Institute Chicago District Council (ULI Chicago) and features commentary from Brian Forde on Chicago real estate tax issues.

Nearly 65% of CRE professionals surveyed said they are either bearish or trending toward concerned when assessing the state of the market in 2H2022. Looking ahead to 2023, there is more optimism, as 50.9% said they are bullish or optimistic about market conditions for next year.

The report also notes:

  • More than 62% believe the downtown office vacancy will continue its upward trajectory.
  • Crime in Chicago will have the greatest impact on investors considering acquisitions in Chicago and the ability to attract tourists to retail/entertainment attractions downtown.
  • Outside factors of greatest concerns among CRE professionals, in order of concern, include the rising cost of construction materials, labor costs, rising interest rates and rising inflation.
  • The benefits of strong occupancy levels to the overall business ecosystem and employee development.

Is a Healthy Office the Key to Bringing Employees Back?

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May 2022 - Are employees more likely to return to the office if it's healthy? This Midwest Real Estate News article tackles that question with a look at whether improved indoor air quality and natural light, among other factors, will entice more workers to return. According to the Center for Active Design, indoor air pollutants are generally two to five times higher than outdoor air pollution; poor light quality and uninspiring views can lead to more missed time from work, and natural, green surroundings are a good investment for companies to make.

Industrial Overview: Amazon scaling back on space and other stories

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May 2022 - As the industrial sector continues its strong advance around the country, there are signs of a pullback in some areas. Here is a recap of recent stories highlighting the industrial market:

Amazon shedding space — After a rapid expansion during the early days of the pandemic, Amazon is looking to shed about 10 msf of space in key national markets (Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, and Southern California), according to this Bisnow story. This represents just 5% of the space it added over the past two years, however. E-commerce sales are down from their peak in early 2020, but still well above pre-pandemic levels.

Big Box Industrial Report — Finding big box industrial space is a challenge in today's super low vacancy environment. According to Colliers, the rate dropped a full percentage point to 2.61% in Q 2022. Net absorption totaled at least 5 msf each quarter since Q4 2020, reaching 45 msf over that time period. See this Illinois Real Estate Journals story for more.

SIOR Sentiment Report — Broker sentiment is beginning to slide in industrial markets, according to research from SIOR recently cited in Globe Street. Brokers are seeing more delayed or canceled transactions, and space and land shortages are leading to less transaction activity in many areas.

John Nyhan Moderates Industrial Investment Panel

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April 2022 - John Nyhan moderated an investment and capital markets panel at the Chicago Industrial Properties Industrial Summit at the end of April.

For the second year in a row, John guided a conversation among industrial property developers, owners and investors who discussed their outlook in the sector for the foreseeable future and issues/trends that are impacting their sentiments.

According to John, the panel expressed great optimism for industrial real estate, not just for the balance of 2022, but for the next several years. “Panel participants acknowledged the emergence of some headwinds, such as inflation and the interest rate climate, but they don’t believe it will lessen the trajectory moving forward.”

The general consensus among a panel of experts was that some headwinds have emerged, but generally they don’t believe they will have an immediate material impact on the market. The panel included Alfredo Gutierrez of SparrowHawk, Dan Fogarty of Stotan Development, Craig Dannegger of Clarius Partners, LLC and Brock Herr of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Attorney Eduardo Martinez Joins O'Keefe Lyons & Hynes

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March 2022 - O'Keefe Lyons & Hynes has hired Eduardo Martinez as an attorney at the firm. He will focus his practice on property tax appeals. He was previously a law clerk with the City of Chicago Department of Law.

He earned his J.D. and Certificate in Business Law from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. See the recent coverage in the Illinois Real Estate Journal.

Elizabeth Gracie Moderates Chicago Office Panel at Forecast Event

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January 2022 - Elizabeth Gracie moderated the office market panel again this year during the REJournals.com Chicago Forecast Event. Participants discussed the outlook for Chicago's downtown and suburban office markets as businesses continue to emerge from pandemic-related shutdowns and hybrid work schedules. The event was held in person and featured noted brokers, developers, architects, and others providing projections about the state of the market and what changes lay ahead.

Continuing Shift of Tax Burden to Commercial Properties

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Fall 2021 - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes analyzed the recently released assessed valuations for several townships and found a familiar story. When aggregated, the trend in shifting the property tax burden to commercial from residential properties is clear.

Assessed valuation throughout the City’s five completed townships (North, South and West Chicago, Rogers Park and Jefferson) increased 58.68%. The increase was 28.69% for residential properties and 85.37% for commercial class (multi-family, commercial and industrial) properties. When broken down further, assessed valuations increased the most for industrial properties, by 131.59% followed by multifamily properties, 88.23% and commercial assets, 81.89%.

Assessed valuations showed the greatest overall increase in the South Chicago Township and showed great disparity between residential and commercial properties. The increase in assessed valuations for all property classes in that township was 70.45%, with the next highest being West Chicago at 66.97%.

The firm’s detailed review shows the shifting burden is distinct. Assessed valuations in North Chicago Township for commercial, multi-family and industrial properties increased 76.46%. The increase in Jefferson and West Chicago Townships was even greater at 81.36% and 100.59%, respectively.

Investors Remain Optimistic on Chicago’s Industrial Sector

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September 2021 - The industrial asset class continues to draw investor attention, according to a new report from The Real Estate Center at DePaul University. This Illinois Real Estate Journal story notes that 36% of survey respondents say they are bullish on Chicago real estate, while 25% say they are neither bullish nor bearish (but optimistic) and 17% said they are bearish. (O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes Member Brian Forde added his perspective on local commercial taxation issues for the report.)

Brian Forde Discusses Taxes in DePaul Report

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August 2021 - For the second year in a row, Brian Forde participated in a Mid-Year Chicago Sentiment Report that is produced by The Real Estate Center at DePaul University. Brian, who earned his JD from DePaul, discussed the challenging landscape for commercial businesses due to the continued uncertainty about Cook County and other property taxes. See this Illinois Real Estate Journal story for more details.

Chicago's Opening Up, but Many Real Estate Sectors Still Struggling

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June 2021 - After a long stretch of lockdowns, social distancing and vaccines, Chicago has reopened and many activity indicators (foot traffic, transit ridership, etc.) are positive. Hotel stays and the all-important office worker activity level are improving, but many businesses are still struggling to get back to pre-pandemic productivity. Here's what's on the radar for some owners, occupiers and investors.

Hotel Activity — Visitors are filling up downtown hotels and tourists are back in full swing, but the big outlier is business travel and convention activity—key indicators for hotel recovery that have not yet rebounded.

Many predict that business travel will not increase much until after Labor Day. With many offices closed to employees, companies are hard pressed to welcome out-of-town clients or send staff out of town. According to Kastle Systems, a security company that tracks access card swipes across the U.S. only 27.9% of Chicago workers were in the office as of June 30, a slight improvement from the beginning of the month.

Multifamily Investment — A recent article in Crain’s Chicago Business cites a “remarkable turnaround” in downtown multifamily rents and occupancy rates as reasons for optimism. Yet, there are renters who likely will not return downtown for myriad reasons. As a result, uncertainty remains. Industry experts—capital markets, brokers and other advisors—note that property tax uncertainty is a real concern and may cause some investors to redline Chicago, thinning out the buyer pool and putting downward pressure on pricing.

One year gone: What have CRE pros missed most during 12 months of COVID-19?

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March 2021 - This Midwest Real Estate News story looks at how the commercial real industry is faring a year after the onset of COVID-19. OLH Member Whitney Carlisle talks about the firm’s use of technology to guide its work and client interaction during the pandemic. New notes that: “Shifting from in-person meetings and court appearances to practicing law remotely was almost seamless for our firm because we have long utilized technology to enhance our legal services.”
See the Midwest Real Estate News story for more.

Kevin Hynes on the 2020 Orland Township reassessment

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January 2021 - Kevin Hynes discussed the 2020 reassessment of Orland Township during the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative update. Kevin provided a general summary of the reassessment and a detailed look at:

  • the shifting of the tax burden onto Orland Park businesses and its impact on businesses
  • the gross increase in commercial values
  • the pandemic’s impact on the reassessment
  • the arbitrary reduction of residential values during the pandemic

Attorney Jabari A. Jackson Joins O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes

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January 2021 - Attorney Jabari A. Jackson joined the firm and will focus his practice on commercial property tax appeals. He has more than 20 years of experience in the legal and financial areas and previously worked as an analyst with the Cook County Board of Review. In that role, he analyzed property tax appeals for commercial and industrial properties throughout Cook County. He also represented the Board of Review at commercial hearings at the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board.

From 2013 to 2014, he served as the Deputy Director, Bureau of Vital Records, at the Cook County Clerk’s Office. He also worked for two years as legal counsel at the Cook County Assessor’s office.

Jackson earned his J.D. with honors from Northwestern University School of Law in 1998. He also earned a Master of Laws (LLM) in real estate from The John Marshall Law School, where he was a member of Lambda Alpha International. For more background and to contact Jabari, click here.

Elizabeth Gracie Moderates Panel at 2021 Forecast Event

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Jan. 7, 2021 - Elizabeth Gracie participated in the annual commercial real estate Forecast event produced (and held remotely) by REjournals.com In what has become an annual tradition, Liz moderated a discussion on the downtown and suburban office markets. Also featured on her panel were Roger Heerema, Wright Heerema Architects; Mickey Stefan, Glenstar; and Elbert Walters III, Powering Chicago. The discussion included the impact of COVID on the marketplace; what tenants are expecting of buildings now and post COVID; and how owners and developers are stepping up to meet those needs.
Click here for a video of the panel discussion.

Industrial Construction Sets Record in Chicago

Jan. 5, 2021 - Industrial development continues to set records in the Chicago market, which has nearly 30 million square feet of new space under construction in Q4 2020, according to Bisnow. The story cites a Colliers International market report in noting that most of the projects were build-to-suits and about one-third are being built on speculation. The pandemic has fueled sizable growth in industrial activity, as consumers turn to e-commerce to avoid in-person shopping.

Cook County Board of Commissioners Waive Fees

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Nov. 2020 - We at OLH hope you and yours had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

We are pleased to pass along a little bit of good news. The Cook County Board of Commissioners recently voted to waive penalty interest for 60 days following the due dates of both the first and second installment 2020 (pay 2021) taxes.
See the O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes memo for details.

The Multi-Dimensional Property Tax Situation Impacting The Real Estate Industry.

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July 2020 - Partner Brian Forde was among key commercial real estate professionals with links to DePaul University and ULI Chicago interviewed for their perspectives on the Chicago real estate markets at the mid-point of 2020.

Forde, who earned his J.D. degree from the DePaul College of Law, offered insights on the multi-dimensional property tax situation impacting Chicago area real estate and the general outlook for the industry. He noted that, in spite of the issues and challenges related to COVID-19, the ability of industry professionals to adapt and create new solutions shouldn’t be underestimated.

Forde believes Cook County property taxes will continue to be a real threat to the industry. “As long as Cook County uses a classification system where commercial and industrial real estate is assessed at 2-1/2 times that of residential properties, property taxes will always be a challenge, and it always will be so long as the system currently in place persists,” Forde says. “That will be further exacerbated when coupled with the inability of taxing officials to manage the sheer volume of valuing 1.8 million parcels. There is just no one size fits all solution.”
See the report here.

The 2019 Triennial Reassessment of Evanston as a Harbinger of the 2021 Triennial Reassessment of Chicago

June 17, 2020 - Now that the 2019 (pay 2020) tax rates have been published, it is possible to quantify the actual tax impact of the assessment increases that occurred in Assessor Kaegi’s first reassessment – the 2019 Triennial Reassessment of the northern Cook County suburbs. We have focused on Evanston because its relative diversity approximates that of Chicago. Until the recent economic and social upheavals, we thought that the Evanston experience would presage the experience of Chicago in the 2021 Triennial Reassessment.

Beginning in the spring of 2019, Assessor Kaegi adopted a new methodology that caused him to increase assessments dramatically. Since then, he has tried to allay the consternation of taxpayers by insisting that most of the increases will be offset by declines in tax rates. He has pointed to a report published by Cushman & Wakefield early in 2020 as affirmation of his reassessment methodology and confirmation that it will have minimal impact on taxes. See the Sun Times story from February 5, 2020, “Property tax hikes won’t be that bad, new report says” and the C&W Report.
Click here for more

COVID-19 and Property Tax Updates

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May 13, 2020 - Today, Cook County officials proposed an ordinance that will postpone until October 1, 2020, the date on which interest penalties for late payments of the second installment 2019 real estate property taxes will begin to accrue. That date is typically August 1. Under the proposed ordinance, 2019 second installment property tax payments made on or before October 1, 2020, will be considered paid on time. Under state law, late property tax payments are charged 1.5% of the total property taxes owed per month. The ordinance will be presented at the next full meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners scheduled for May 21. See Cook County tax news for more.

Is there tax relief coming for Chicago area tax payers?

  • April 24, 2020 - The Better Government Association cites the actions proposed by some of the collar counties to offer some relief. Cook County and some others have not, leaving residents with uncertainty as the next tax deadline approaches. The story also notes the legal debate about whether county governments even have the authority to alter property tax due dates established by State statute.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Comments

  • April 24, 2020 - Bisnow reports on its virtual town hall meeting with Preckwinkle in which she cited the many financial demands on county government. She is quoted saying, “We’re going to do our best to get property tax bills out on time.” “On time” means mid-June with a due date of August 1, 2020.

April 2020 COVID-19 Updates

See the following links for information on:

  • Information on Assessor Kaegi’s April 9 online meeting, with early details on how the COVID-19 pandemic might impact assessments Click Here

  • Sun-Times article on Assessor Kaegi’s plans to send 2020 assessment notices for Cook County properties and reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click Here

  • Preliminary guidelines and preparing to file assessments Click Here

O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes COVID-19 Announcement

March 17, 2020 - As concerns grow about spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we at O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, LLC, are taking action to both protect the public health and maintain operational continuity. We are well prepared to continue delivering legal services throughout this global health crisis. Our robust technology systems will enable us to work remotely in a secure data environment. We hope to do so without interruption in our representation of your interests.
Click here for our full statement.

Attorney Douglas J. LaSota Joins O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes

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January 2020 - Attorney Douglas J. LaSota has joined the firm. He will be representing Chicago area businesses and property owners in complex property taxation issues.

LaSota has more than 10 years of experience in the legal profession, including six years as a commercial analyst at the Cook County Board of Review. LaSota continues a longstanding tradition at O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, where attorneys bring extensive government property tax experience to their role in representing clients.

Most recently, from 2018 through late 2019, LaSota was Associate Corporation Counsel for the Village of Hoffman Estates. He previously served as a Commercial Analyst for the Cook County Board of Review, from 2011 to 2018. In that position he analyzed and rendered legal decisions on commercial, industrial, residential and condominium property assessment appeals; and conducted hearings concerning property value assessments, among other responsibilities. For more background and to contact Douglas, click here.

Liz Gracie and Kevin Hynes Speak at Commercial Real Estate Forecast Event

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January 2020 - For the third consecutive year, O'Keefe Lyons & Hynes was a sponsor of the annual Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference in Chicago, produced locally by ReJournals. Member Liz Gracie again moderated a breakout panel on the downtown and suburban office markets, while Member Kevin Hynes was a panelist on the retail breakout session. See more on this commercial real estate forecast event here.

Outlook 2020 - Chicago’s industrial market is on track for another strong year in 2020, with activity in infill markets, such as O’Hare, of particular note. Land prices are rising and developers continue to look for opportunities to bring new product to the market.

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Chicago Multifamily Still Strong; Rents Stabilize

December 2019 - The apartment market in downtown Chicago is still growing, but at a decreasing rate, according to recent data from Integra Realty Resources. As noted in Connect Media, average net rents were up by 1.6% (to $3.10 psf) for Class A buildings. Integra expect 3,000 units to be absorbed both this year and next.

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News Updates from Around the Region

November 2019 - Here are recent commercial real estate news briefs for the Chicago market:

Construction Update

  • New construction is coming to the near north suburbs with the development of a new 26-acre mixed-use retail and residential project called Sawmill Station in Morton Grove. The project will include 200,000 sf of retail space and a 6-story, 250,000 sf residential tower.

Chicago Draws Molson Coors

  • Chicago’s commercial real estate market has drawn another national tenant in Molson Coors, which recently announced it will move to the city from Colorado. According to Bisnow, this will be a positive step forward in absorbing some of the new office space created by recent downtown construction.

Commercial Real Estate Pricing Rises 6.7%

  • Prices for commercial properties across the country rose 6.7% year-over-year in September, according to RCA’s US National All-Property Index. Industrial properties posted the largest gains with an 11.9% rise year-over-year. Read More

June 2019 - Here are recent stories making the news:

  • A recent study by The Real Estate Center at DePaul University shows 52% of CRE professionals surveyed see the Chicago commercial real estate market as strong.
  • Class A industrial assets in primary markets are positioned well for growth in values and rental rates over the next 12 months, according to a survey from the Royal Institute of Charted Surveyors (RICS). Read More

Gracie Moderates Developer Panel at Connect Media Conference

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May 2019 - Member Elizabeth Gracie recently moderated a panel discussion at the Connect Media Conference in Chicago. Gracie’s panel, which included Scott Goodman, Farpoint Development; Alan Lev, Belgravia; Jeff Shapack, Shapack Partners; and John Rutledge, Oxford Capital Partners, delved into the driving forces, challenges and benefits of mega developments and/or market-changing projects that are dominant storylines in Chicago’s real estate community.

The consensus is that while developers and their teams may go through rigorous approval processes, these projects are providing tremendous contributions to the City. In essence, their immediate and long-term benefits far outweigh the challenges and hurdles that must be overcome, even before the first shovel of dirt is moved.

Carlisle Moderates Panel at the 16th Annual CIP Summit

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May 2019 - Member Whitney Carlisle moderated a panel at the 16th Annual CIP Summit, hosted by REjournals. In the hour-long session, panelists delved into where they see emerging and sustained growth opportunities, and how the market is changing, in a strong business climate.

A panel of real estate brokers, investors and developers essentially all agreed that the industrial marketplace, continues to flourish, surpassing just about every growth and expansion metric conceivable. The panel also explored how tenant demands in the area of building amenities, office build-out requirements and parking are changing.

Tim Hennelly, the President of the Great Lakes Region of Ryan Companies addressed the emergence of opportunity zones (OZ) as a tool that likely will encourage development in certain areas and broaden the depth of the market. Hennelly notes that Ryan is preparing to break ground on a 400,000-SF spec building at Pullman Crossings, just south of the Loop in the Pullman area.

A few comments from panelists include:

  • “Chicago is in the midst of a double header, with plenty of playing time left in the game,” noted David Friedland, Executive Director of Cushman & Wakefield.
  • Brian McKiernan, Sr. Vice President, CenterPoint Properties, was more tempered, citing construction costs that are escalating at double digit increases and rents that are “at a 20-year reset” as among his concerns.
  • Chris Gary, an Executive Vice President with NAI Hiffman, gave a bullish outlook of the industrial market, saying that the Chicago market is very efficient market and demand is keeping up with supply.

April 2019 - Member Elizabeth Gracie comments on the assessor’s proposal to revamp the commercial tax assessment process.

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April 2019 - Featuring comments from Member Elizabeth Gracie on the proposed tax assessment changes.

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Winter 2019 - As O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes continues to monitor activity in the commercial real estate market, here are a few interesting stories in the news:

  • As news surfaces about Amazon possibly pulling out of its New York HQ2 space, Illinois officials jump in to restart the conversation about considering Chicago. See this NBC News story for more.
  • Bisnow recently wrote about Amazon’s potential strategy to lease Sears stores for new Whole Foods locations.
  • Glenstar Properties shifted plans from a suburban apartment development to office space, according to The Real Deal.

Four OL&H Members Named Top 10 Leading Lawyers

January 2019 - In a recent survey conducted by Leading Lawyers, four partners at O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes were voted among the Top 10 Leading Real Estate Property Tax Lawyers in Illinois. Those in the top ten for 2019 are Mark Davis, number 2; Elizabeth Gracie, number 6; Kevin Hynes, number 7; and Jason Shilson, number 9. No other firm in the State of Illinois has more than one attorney ranked in the Top 10 for property tax law attorneys. Partners Brian Forde and Whitney Carlisle were also highlighted on the list for their commercial property tax law work. All attorneys noted above are members of the firm.

January 2019 - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes Members Kevin Hynes and Elizabeth Gracie were featured speakers at the 2019 Commercial Real Estate Forecast produced by the IL Real Estate Journal.

Kevin Hynes discussed retail trends and their impact on commercial real estate taxation, while Elizabeth Gracie moderated the office market panel. According to this story by the IL Real Estate Journal, the office panel featured discussions on how office property owners need to take some cues from the retail industry.

Office tenants want more than just cubicles and a big lobby, for example. They want a unique and comfortable experience.

The conference is in its 17th year and drew more than 900 attendees.

Kevin B. Hynes

September 2018 - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes Member Elizabeth Gracie participated in a panel discussion at the annual Fall REIA/DePaul Real Estate Center Summit on September 27 at Maggiano's Little Italy, 111 Grand Ave., Chicago.

She discussed the factors that weigh into property tax liability, including how local government budgets determine the size of the tax pie. See this IL RE Journals story for more.

Summer 2018 - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes Member Elizabeth Gracie was featured in the Women In Real Estate Directory, page 47, published by Rejournals.com, a division of Law Bulletin Media.

Elizabeth L. Gracie

Two prominent Chicago property tax law firms merge
under the name O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, LLC

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Chicago (May 1, 2018) - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, LLC and McCracken, Walsh, Carlisle & de LaVan have merged, bringing together two prominent property tax law firms in Chicago under the name O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, LLC.

O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, LLC was established in 1937. In reflecting on the firm’s 80-year history, Kevin O’Keefe observed, “Our attorneys have continually been involved in drafting legislation, litigating precedent-setting cases and crafting cutting edge strategies on behalf of our clients. We are eager to take on the most complex and challenging matters.”

McCracken Walsh, Carlisle & de LaVan was established in 1958. Its current principal, Whitney Carlisle, brings more than 22 years of experience representing Chicago area businesses in complex property taxation issues. He previously spent 11 years in the taxation division of the office of the Cook County State’s Attorney. He is currently Vice Chairman of the Illinois State Bar Association’s State and Local Taxation Section Council and a co-chair of the Property Tax Committee of The Civic Federation. The merger also brings attorney Margaret Graham and several administrative staff to the O’Keefe firm.

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May 2018 - Our firm’s merger was highlighted in the IL Real Estate Journal.

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March 9, 2018 - O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes Partner John Nyhan discussed tax incentive programs in Cook County as part of this IL Real Estate Journal’s article. Elizabeth Gracie was featured in the Women In Real Estate Directory published by Rejournals.com, a division of Law Bulletin Media.

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John P. Nyhan

February 8, 2018 - Three firms that work extensively in commercial real estate—O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes, McShane Construction and Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, P.C.—were among the honorees at a recent gala hosted by Christ the King Jesuit College Prep (CTK).

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O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes Celebrates 80th Anniversary
Hosts Clients at Chicago’s London House

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September 2017 - O’Keefe, Lyons & Hynes recently celebrated its 80th anniversary at an open house event for clients.

Pictured left to right, are: Brian Forde, Mike Heaton, Kevin O’Keefe, Elizabeth Gracie, Patricia Quinn Ford, John Nyhan, Jason Shilson, Kevin Hynes and Mark Davis.

Chicago Industrial Properties

February 23, 2017 - By Brian Forde, Partner, O’Keefe Lyons & Hynes

Since the start of the recovery from the 2008 recession, we have witnessed incredible growth in Chicago’s industrial market.

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Brian P. Forde

Illinois Real Estate Journal/2018 Forecast Event

February 17, 2017 - More than 900 attendees crowded into the 16th Annual CRE Forecast to hear what the experts had to say.

Kevin Hynes spoke on the Retail Panel at the 2018 Commercial Real Estate Forecast Event.

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