RedShelf expands office footprint in move to distressed tower

Subleasing 20K sf from WellRight, in building owned by Brookfield Asset Management

RedShelf Subleases 20K SF in Distressed Chicago Office Tower
RedShelf's Rob Holland with 175 West Jackson Boulevard (LinkedIn, Google Maps)

A digital textbook company just put a small dent in Chicago’s mountain of empty office space, relocating its headquarters from River North to the heart of downtown.

RedShelf has subleased about 20,000 square feet in the distressed 22-story building at 175 West Jackson Boulevard from employee health software company WellRight, Crain’s reported

CBRE’s Tony Coglianese represented RedShelf in lease negotiations, while CBRE’s Bill Sheehy represented WellRight.

Brookfield Asset Management, the owner of the 1.4 million-square-foot building, was hit with a foreclosure lawsuit in 2022 after allegedly defaulting on a $280 million loan on the property. The lawsuit, filed by lender U.S. Bank, is pending. 

A court-appointed receiver hired JLL to sell the property last year as Brookfield looks to evade foreclosure. Brookfield bought the building for $306 million in 2018.

RedShelf moved its main office from the 13-story building at 500 North Dearborn Street, where it occupied a slightly smaller space for six years. Details of the multi-year sublease weren’t disclosed.

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The company’s expanded footprint is good news in an office sector that’s still grappling with record-high vacancies, exceeding 25 percent last quarter. Since the pandemic, a horde of companies have shrunk their footprints in response to remote-work trends. 

Plus, a record-setting 8.2 million square feet of sublease space became available in 2023, a stark increase from 6.8 million a year prior and 3.3 million square feet when the public health crisis began.

While RedShelf initially embraced a hybrid-work model during the initial years of the pandemic, allowing employees to work remotely a few days a week, it’s now committed to in-office work. 

“We now have a more flexible space that allows us to have big collaborative areas and still give people quality spaces to work,” RedShelf CEO Rob Holland told the outlet. “It aligns with what we’re doing as a company as we enter a new phase of accelerated growth.”

—Quinn Donoghue 

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