NAIOP Research Foundation Report Details Development Model for the Middle Ring Suburbs

As the demographic and physical landscape of cities across the United States evolves, commercial real estate developers will need a sophisticated framework to identify valuable opportunities in the Middle Ring suburbs, says a new report commissioned by the NAIOP Research Foundation.

The Middle Ring is defined by its demographic, geographic and physical characteristics, including:

With Middle Ring suburbs identified as an area of opportunity for re-investment, this study, Toward a Development Model for the Middle Ring Suburbs, uses the city of Boston as a case study (see specific Middle Ring site study locations below) to address the questions of a new development model by analyzing demographic and situational characteristics, as well as determining strengths and weaknesses for development. It concludes by outlining the steps that could be taken for development site selection and proposes a model to be implemented.

The report was done in partnership with the Organization for Permanent Modernity at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. The full study, including detailed maps, investment diagrams, graphic models and case studies, is available at the NAIOP Research Foundation.

Middle Ring Framework

Development is largely focused on urban centers and suburban sprawl, leaving the so-called Middle Ring that is located in the middle of a metropolitan area. Opportunities lie with changes in investment and development patterns that accelerate the relevance of the Middle Ring as an area to profit from both value growth in downtowns and the presence of suburban purchasing power.

Development in the Middle Ring – called “in between places” – must engage with community leaders for public-private partnerships that invest in local infrastructure that create a sense of place to attract high-end tenants, provide easy and safe public transportation access, and emphasize the novelty of development, says the report. An important component of that is Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which Generation Y consumers have expressed an immense interest in living near. As this new generation comes of age, they will play an increasing role in shaping the future of housing. Their desire to live in active, urban neighborhoods will drive the need for high-density, multi-family housing and the development of mixed-use districts and suburban downtowns.

General Development Model for the Middle Ring Suburbs

The study characterized the Middle Ring and outlined a method by which zones for development can be identified, as well as the following key factors for a successful redevelopment project:

Development Comparison

In a development comparison of the Middle Ring vs. City Center, the study shows that:

Middle Ring Site Studies

The following locations were identified as Middle Ring locations in the study. For each, the report includes site statistics; demographics; available parcels; land and business owners; government officials; and community groups:

To access the full report, please visit the NAIOP Research Foundation or contact Kathryn Hamilton at at 703-904-7100.

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About the NAIOP Research Foundation: The NAIOP Research Foundation was established in 2000 as a 501(c)(3) organization to support the work of individuals and organizations engaged in real estate development, investment and operations. The Foundation’s core purpose is to provide these individuals and organizations with the highest level of research information on how real properties, especially office, industrial, retail and mixed-use properties, impact and benefit communities throughout North America. For more information on how to contribute or for complimentary research reports, visit

Kathryn Hamilton