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The news that several prominent developers in Chicago are breaking ground on speculative big-box warehouse projects along the I-80 and I-55 industrial corridors is being met with a great deal of excitement here in the Midwest. As the economy has continued to improve over the past 12 to 18 months, industrial users have gradually been eating up the warehouse spaces that sat idle through the depths of the recession.

As it stands now, only a handful of available spaces larger than 500,000 square feet are still on the market. Perhaps even more significantly, though, this surge in lease activity (and the corresponding demand for new development) stands as further evidence of another important macro trend: Chicago's emergence as North America's pre-eminent “inland port.”

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