Beginners guide to Flex Space

Beginners Guide to Flex Space


Whether you call it Flex Space, Shop Space, or Contractor Space, you’re talking about one of the hottest sectors in commercial real estate for the suburban Philadelphia PA market. It appears “Flex Space” was pandemic proof from a leasing and selling perspective and it’s the “why” that is interesting.

Flex Space is commercial real estate building space that allows for a variety of commercial uses under one roof. Primarily for contractors, manufacturers, and distributors of wholesale retail goods and construction-oriented services. A prime example might be your local swimming pool supply and service company or the company that makes and distributes outdoor sheds. Each user has a different need for the configuration of their Flex Space. The swimming pool supply and service user may need the ability to have a retail space for the public to purchase goods and schedule services while having warehousing and workbench space to facilitate their service department. The outdoor shed company has no need of retail space as they sell wholesale exclusively but do have need of office and conference room space within their unit to allow for a sales force and management to coordinate while maintaining warehousing and distribution space for shipping and receiving.

Key attributes of most flex space include:
  • drive-in doors and or loading docks
  • high ceiling heights
  • sufficient electrical service to the building to allow for intended use
  • little or no interior columns needed to support the roof
  • concrete slab flooring


Surprisingly some elements which might be thought to be “standard needs” are not when it comes to flex space buildings. Parking needs for flex space users are often much less than that of office, retail, or multifamily commercial real estate sites. With much of the space being occupied by product and infrastructure associated with distribution or service, the average flex space user has sufficiently fewer employees than other users might. Additionally, there may be only one ADA restroom for a rather large space, HVAC may include only heat with no air conditioning needed, no breakroom or kitchenette or lobby area. Of course, users vary greatly as do the configuration of amenities within flex space buildings.

The popularity of flex space has been long-standing, well before the COVID pandemic. The pandemic restrictions which designated contractors and their suppliers to be essential workers, allowed many flex space users to continue operating. With the popularity of home improvement, online ordering, medical supply needs, etc.. during the pandemic shutdown, many of these services not only survived but thrived. This resulted in business owners who may have previously been leasing locations looking to take on additional square footage and potentially get out of leasing by purchasing a flex space location. Those smaller operators who may have been operating out of a home-based business structure now found themselves in a position to take on a commercial real estate location for their business and flex space was the obvious choice.

Many areas are reporting historically low vacancy rates for flex space lease locations and those few which are offered for sale are transacting at per square foot sale prices not seen to date.

Interested in selling or leasing your Flex Building? Let us know!