Well, we’re back.
We had a very pleasant time in downtown Chicago. To sum it up, the exploratory visit accomplished its goal to give us enough of a flavor to make our relocation decision. More on that in the upcoming days.
We arrived late Thursday and checked in to our hotel. Not much going on, so I went around the corner to grab a quick bite while Monica went to bed early.
Friday was our busy day as we wanted to first check out the new office location in the Aon building. Even though it was only a 15-minute walk away, it was raining hard enough for us to have to take a cab. In a word, I was impressed. The five floors near the top are new, clean, and exactly as advertised internally. This is and will be a go-to destination for CPG professionals in the Chicago area. While on paper (and to Monica) the accommodations were too open and congested, I thought the layout was just fine. Plenty of room to work and collaboration will be enhanced. Granted, there weren’t too many employees working in the office on this Friday, but it was very quiet and there were more enclaves and meeting rooms than I remember seeing on the map. In my opinion – based on a 30-minute visit – this is a great space.
After a quick bite in the underground city that is the Aon community, our real estate agent picked us up and we began our house-hunting tour. (Not really house-hunting per se; more like checking-out-different-Chicago-neighborhood-hunting.) We decided to focus on the downtown area since we are already quite familiar with suburban living. If we decide to relocate, we may look more closely at the various commuter ‘burbs, depending a lot on how today’s locations look. Luckily, many of the properties we identified in our search were near enough to each other that we weren’t in the car all afternoon. Zach was excellent. He knew about each neighborhood, offered just enough inside information without going over the ethical line, and we saw some very nice properties. Most were unoccupied. It was surprising how much variation can be found in “common” 3- or 4-story flats. Some with an elevator, some with garage parking, some with a private rooftop deck, some with a front and back deck; none had them all. There are plenty of properties on the market in our price range, it’s just a matter of prioritizing your needs and wants. We wrapped with pleasantries and he gave us some great recommendations for dinner.
With a little extra time to kill, we went back to our room and relaxed a bit before heading out for the night. We first headed to Eataly for wine and Italian shopping (touristy but very cool), then to the Grand Lux Cafe for dinner before finally heading to the 96th floor of the Hancock building for an expensive drink in the Signature Lounge. The rain held off enough to allow us to walk to all of these places. Unfortunately, the views from above were shrouded in fog, but it was a great, great evening.
It was still warm and dry enough on Saturday morning for us to head to the Bean in Millennium Park. I know it has a name – for the record, yes I had to look it up – Cloud Gate. Seriously? Whatever. A little shopping on the way back to the hotel and we were on our way back home.
Next up…the decision.