Profiles in the Evolution of Suburban Office Parks

By: Dustin C. Read, Ph.D./J.D.

Release Date: August 2019

Many suburban office parks in North America are now functionally obsolete due to their location, layout or limited amenities. The NAIOP Research Foundation commissioned this report to identify ways that firms are revitalizing suburban office parks through redevelopment, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. The author interviewed five developers who have recently updated suburban office parks in the United States and Canada to learn how they made these properties relevant for today’s market.

As with any commercial real estate development project, each office park presented developers with unique challenges and opportunities. Nonetheless, several common themes emerge from the profiles that allow the author to draw broader conclusions about suburban office park redevelopment:

  • Redeveloped office parks must fit the preferences of the local workforce and the needs of local employers.
  • Developers should seek to understand local officials’ priorities.
  • Developers should build flexibility into their plans and partner with creditors who understand that they may need to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Developers can maximize the value of their improvements by leveraging design, technology and amenities to develop a property’s identity and build community.
  • Rebranding is often a critical component of a successful redevelopment strategy.

The growing interest in suburban office park redevelopment likely reflects recent market conditions and the current phase of the real estate cycle. Nonetheless, the substantial supply of aging office parks and growing millennial migration to the suburbs suggest that office park redevelopment will remain an effective strategy for the foreseeable future.