While many young professionals continue to seek dense live-work-play urban areas, growing throngs of their contemporaries are descending on suburbs in search of more affordable places to live. An array of consumer and business publications have reported on the movement, finding Millennials reversing the trend of inbound urbanism that characterized the early years of this decade.
Many are now moving to suburbs in search of lower housing costs and more family-friendly living. A 2018 Ernst & Young survey of 1,200 young adults age 20 to 36 revealed more Millennials are purchasing houses in the suburbs than are buying dwellings in the city.
But if the choice is living in the suburbs, Millennials still want the attractive features of an urban milieu. These include pedestrian-friendliness, density, housing options and all the necessities of life virtually right outside their doors. Line up these attributes, and they are very much those found in urban hipster havens. But they’re also the qualities many Millennials experienced in earlier phases of their lives, on college or university campuses.
Borrowing from universities
Forward-thinking suburban office campus developers are taking note and are finding ways to help their future commercial tenants attract and retain talent. These developers are delivering a new generation of office spaces that help young adults earn the way they once learned, in settings that borrow some of the elements of university campuses.
The result? This new approach to designing office space is helping office tenants attract higher-caliber talent in ways undreamed of by designers of the old cubicle-based office environments.
In Warren, N.J., for instance, there’s an office campus featuring an indoor-outdoor, 20,000-square-foot stand-alone amenities hub and lifestyle center similar to the student recreation centers serving as focal points of many college campuses. The center features patio dining, exercise equipment and a basketball court, and serves as a place for colleagues to connect, collaborate and recharge, outside the walls of a traditional office setting.
Elsewhere in the Garden State, Holmdel, N.J.-based Bell Works, the redesigned suburban Bell Labs business center, is also borrowing attractive elements from college campuses. Just as every university campus has a central library, Bell Works features Holmdel Library, with 18,000 square feet of space and 60 shelves worth of books, helping the more bookish of employees transition from their studious college days.
These next-gen office settings also offer dining opportunities not unlike those on college and university campuses, but take them to a higher level. LATITUDE, A Vision Real Estate Partners‘ property in Parsippany, N.J., plans to offer food options based on different regions around the United States. For instance, those who’d like to sup like Chicagoans might order Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. If the mood calls for the best of New York City cuisine the next day, diners will be able to order up a few specialties of the Big Apple.
Basing the choice of amenities on the settings those young adults experienced on campuses of higher learning makes more sense than plugging young professionals into cubicle-based offices, office developers report.
“The term ‘amenities’ does not do justice to what we are creating in the office campus setting,” says Ross Chomik, managing partner at Vision Real Estate Partners. “We’re not simply putting a cafeteria or a gym in one of our buildings and expecting that to change the course of the workday for our tenants. What companies really want is a customized, hospitality-based experience – an environment that is thoughtful about how much time people actually spend at work, and what they really need from the workplace to perform at their best. That means creating spaces that cater to different work styles, and infusing wellness, food and recreation-based services integrating with people’s daily lives.”