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Last July, long before the pandemic hit, the coworking firm Industrious set up space at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. Later it inked deals at other malls around the country. Now that COVID-19 has accelerated the problems in retail, Joe Brady, CEO Americas for The Instant Group, a workspace innovation firm, thinks more of these conversions could be on the horizon.

“If you think about closed Sears boxes, or what’s going to happen with the Neiman Marcus space, the problems in retail are front and center at the moment,” Brady says. “We’re seeing this intersection between people wanting to work near home, and what’s happening with some of the struggles in malls and in retail with the big boxes.”

Brady expects more groups, including shopping center REITs, to follow Industrious, which is partially funded by Brookfield, by opening flex spaces in malls. These mall working spaces could fit as spokes in the hub-and-spoke office model. 

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