Google is moving Motorola Mobility, but not where you might think. Instead of uprooting itself to Silicon Valley, Motorola is making the much shorter trip down I-94 from its current Libertyville, Ill., home to downtown Chicago, where it will become the newest and largest tenant in the Windy City’s storied Merchandise Mart.
For those of you who have never seen the Merch Mart, it’s a two-square block art deco colossus with its own zip code and elevated train station – think Rockefeller Center squashed down into an imposing compact block. It was built in 1930, and still persists, as a nexus of showrooms and office space for wholesale distributors, selling everything for bathroom fixtures to carpets. But lately it’s started to take on a new alias as a tech hub. Chicago’s new startup mecca 1871 resides on the Merchandise Mart’s 12th floor.
Motorola will occupy the top four floors of the building as well as its roof, relocating 3,000 employees from Chicago’s northern suburbs next summer. Google has offices in Chicago as well at a rather undistinguished address in the same River North neighborhood. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Motorola’s headquarters will officially be in the Windy City, but most of its senior executives will be based at Motorola’s Sunnyvale, Calif., campus. All of the product managers and engineers will remain in the Midwest.