A transformation is taking place across North America: Once a suburban staple, office parks are starting to look more and more like micro-communities. Retail stores, movie theaters, restaurants, apartments, bike paths and more are cropping up in and around these spaces as developers adapt to changing demand.
According to CBRE Group Inc., developers created more than 160 million square feet of new suburban office space around the country in 1988 and 1989. This in contrast to the just over 12 million square feet of suburban office space built in 2011 and 2012 — the smallest amount in more than 20 years.
A few things may have contributed to this decline. Younger workers’ return to the city, the need for renovation of decades-old properties, and a general disdain for the “cubicle farm” all play a part in the death of the dated suburban office park. Instead, employers are looking for the trifecta to attract top talent: one place to work, live and play. So owners and developers are reinventing these properties to attract tenants, creating mixed-use areas with housing, retail and office spaces.
In many cases, municipalities are willing to work with landowners to rezone properties that can result in increased densities and additional uses. In the D.C. Metro area, where office vacancies are driving down property values and the government is missing out on millions of dollars’ worth of taxes, a committee of county officials, business leaders and housing advocates has been established to help address the issue.
“If we know of some of these buildings someone might need, or know of someone who wants to open a brewery or something, we can match them together,” Barbara Byron, director of Fairfax County’s Office of Revitalization told The Washington Post.
In the first quarter of 2016, the NAIOP Research Foundation will release a research paper featuring a series of case studies profiling and examining suburban office park redevelopment projects recently completed or underway. Read more about redeveloping suburban office parks and the latest in CRE research in the NAIOP Research Foundation newsletter.
Brielle Scott is Senior Communications Manager at NAIOP.