Apartments in Suburban Office Parks

In an effort to keep office parks from becoming “suburban blight” some municipalities are approving plans for those parks to be redeveloped for multi-use:

Hoping to stave off suburban blight, local officials in more than a dozen communities have approved plans for developers to turn aging corporate parks into urban-style complexes with amenities including apartments, stores, movie theaters, bike paths and office space.

The most recent example is in Bridgewater, N.J., where a 1.2 million-square-foot office and research park once occupied by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi was purchased in April by a developer who wants to create a hotel, retail, restaurants and potentially apartment buildings. A similar plan is under way in the Richmond, Va., suburbs, where an area with 8 million square feet of 1980s-era offices could be transformed by taller buildings with multiple uses…

Highwoods PropertiesHIW -1.43% a Raleigh, N.C., firm that owns a number of office buildings in the area, has received approval to redevelop the first 40 acres of a site that will include 400,000 square feet of retail, 1,000 hotel rooms, some 6,000 apartment and condo units and 3.5 million square feet of office space.

“We’re not going to move our buildings in Innsbrook to the [Richmond central business district]. How can we urbanize where we are?” said Ed Fritsch, president and chief executive of Highwoods.

It will be interesting to see if this turns out to be just a new niche development or the beginning of a trend.