Large Companies Moving Back to Cities

The movement stems from demographic changes in the work force. For companies seeking younger hires, they need to go to where they prefer to live. Suburban campuses may be replaced by urban headquarters or the addition of satellite offices in cities.

Lauren Weber points to many "corporate giants abandoning vast suburban campuses for urban offices nearer to the young, educated and hyper-connected workers who will lead their businesses into the digital age." While her focus is the Chicago area, she includes examples from throughout the country.

"The showcase headquarters of the past, the beautiful suburban campuses—that's a very obsolete model now," said Patrick Phillips, CEO of the Urban Land Institute, a land-use think tank.

Vacancy rates reflect the "back to the city" movement. In 2013, 13,9% of urban space stood empty compared with 18.5% in suburbs.

"There's increasing evidence that this represents a broad trend among large and middle-size companies," said Enrico Moretti, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "The New Geography of Jobs."

For companies who choose to say put, many "are opening or expanding urban satellite offices, especially for technology and research staff working on product development and innovation, according to Mr. Moretti."

Lauren Weber goes into more detail in an audio version of the article with host Gordon Deal of "The Wall Street Journal This Morning" accessible from the article.

The same article also appears in Yahoo! Finance.

Full Story: Companies Say Goodbye to the 'Burbs


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