Office Parks Reimagined As Walkable Communities

Developers are beginning to see suburban office parks as an opportunity to create urban-style communities. From the Wall Street Journal:

The latest example is in Minnetonka, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. There, Roers Investments LLC and CPM Cos. want to demolish two vacant warehouses to build a 274-unit luxury-apartment project in the middle of the 600-acre Opus II Business Park.

The $62 million development, which will include a fitness center, rooftop patio, fire pit and underground, heated parking, will feature apartments with monthly rents that range from $1,155 for a studio to $2,520 for a two-bedroom unit.

Adding apartments to corporate parks has numerous advantages for developers, according to Maureen McAvey, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington. First, most corporate parks are owned by a single entity, making it easier for developers to aggregate the parcels needed to build. With land increasingly scarce in urban and suburban locations, business parks have an abundance of underused space. Corporate parks also usually have easy access to major highways and mass transit, as well as infrastructure such as roads and utilities, which make redevelopment easier and less expensive.

And converting corporate parks into walkable communities helps increase the property value:

Walkability adds value, even to commercial properties. According to data firm Real Capital Analytics, prices for properties in central business districts have risen 125% over the past decade, but suburban properties that are also considered highly walkable are up 43%. Comparatively, prices are up just 21% to 22% for properties in suburban locations that are somewhat walkable or car-dependent.