First, WeWork popularized and successfully scaled the coworking concept for office space. Now, this trend is gaining support in the warehouse/industrial sector. Although no locations have yet opened in central Maryland, that could soon be changing as owners/investors look to take advantage of expected demand.
The typical co-warehousing building consists of 50,000 to 150,000 square feet of space, which is subsequently leased to multiple tenants ranging from as little as 100 square feet and extending up to several thousand square feet. The expenses for common areas and services – which include utilities, internet connections, loading docks and restrooms – are shared among the companies. Most of the leases are short-term and tenant build-out is extremely simple with open ceilings and minimal offices to assure the lowest cost of retrofitting space for the next user.
Saltbox, which operates locations in nine cities across the country, describes itself as providing “purpose-built workspaces that offer fulfillment and logistics support to e-commerce entrepreneurs.” The concept appeals to small startups and offers a “break from garages stuffed with inventory, living rooms packed with products and kitchen counters substituting as desks.” Saltbox has monthly memberships that provide customers access to warehouse space, shipping services, private phone booths, cafés and weekly events. The company recently raised $35 million in venture capital money, which followed an earlier raise of $130 million last year.
“The inventory for warehouse and logistics space in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. corridor remains incredibly tight, which is the primary reason why we have not seen the concept emerge in our area to date but it seems logical that it will, based on its success nationally,” explained Allan Riorda, SIOR and Principal of Lee & Associates | Maryland. “Similar to office incubator spaces, co-warehousing represents a great opportunity for development firms to establish relationships with smaller companies that, over time, will grow into users of considerably larger spaces and can be transferred to a nearby building.”
WareSpace is a Washington, D.C.-based co-warehousing company that operates spaces in Lanham, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia. Features offered include industrial racking systems, pallet jacks, conference rooms, a kitchen, lounge and 24/7 security. The company, which bills itself as a “one-stop shop for all your small warehousing needs,” seems a likely candidate to expand its footprint locally.
According to Coworking Insights, the co-warehouse concept is being driven by the steady rise of e-commerce with storage and logistics space becoming the lifeblood of small entrepreneurs trying to grab market share. The article suggests that “young businesses often fail because they make mistakes related to scalability and expansion” and co-warehousing enables companies to “pay for only what they currently require and add space incrementally as they grow.”
Another emerging use is among companies that require seasonal storage for products during the holiday season, as well as groups that need to temporarily house necessary items in anticipation of ongoing supply chain challenges. An example is construction firms purchasing often-needed materials or equipment and saving the products for future use.
“Public warehousing spaces, including those operated by Ryder and Ware2Go, have thrived by helping companies that need outside vendor support to handle all or a portion of its distribution requirements, and co-warehousing allows smaller companies to operate their entire operation within the space,” Riorda added.
Additional benefits of the concept are networking opportunities for co-tenants in the building, access to daily shipping services, a private location to receive and send shipments, and related amenities, in some instances such as legal and accounting services.