The Death of the Suburban Office ParkS

The ongoing evolution of the American suburbs into slums will not be denied. Malls are dying. Now, the classic suburban office park is dying too.

The recession-induced collapse of many suburban housing developments has turned them into virtual ghost towns. Understandable. But the suburban office park? The glass-and-steel alien structures that safely ensconced the suburban businessman so completely in the suburban world that he need never experience urban nor rural lifestyles? They, too, are in peril. The WSJ reports that businesses, like people, are fleeing for the cities.

The national office vacancy rate in downtowns was 14.9% at the end of the third quarter, the same level as in early 2005-while the suburban vacancy rate hit 19%, 2.3 percentage points higher than in 2005, according to data firm Reis Inc.

In the first three quarters of this year, businesses in the suburbs vacated a net 16 million square feet of occupied office space-nearly 280 football fields-while downtowns have stabilized, losing just 119,000 square feet.

So while there's still more total office space in suburbs than in cities, there won't be forever. They're terrible environmentally, terrible for transportation, and terrible for the soul. The up-and-coming generation of younger workers (all the old and highly paid workers have been laid off) certainly does not want to spend all of its time in an anonymous suburban cubicle farm. Particularly if the malls are gone.

[WSJ. Pic via]