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Warehouse demand offsets vacant office space

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ShipBob fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, California

ShipBob

After ShipBob decided last July to let staffers work from anywhere, the logistics start-up had its landlord erect a wall in the middle of its Chicago headquarters so half the space could be rented out to another company.

On March 1, the office reopened at reduced capacity for socially distanced meetings.

But while it’s using less office space, ShipBob’s real estate needs have been expanding at a breakneck pace. The company, which provides fulfillment services to online retailers, has more than doubled its warehouse count since mid-2020 to 24 locations today, including four outside the U.S., with plans to reach 35 by the end of 2021.

The seven-year-old company is a microcosm of the U.S. commercial real estate market. While office vacancies have soared as employers prepare for a post-Covid future of distributed work, the industrial market is hotter than ever because of a pandemic-fueled surge in…

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