Mixed-Success Predicted for High-Rise, Mixed-Use Suburban Developments

With occupancy rates rising faster in urban than suburban locations, some suburbs are remaking themselves into mixed-use communities with hi-rise office and residential towers; Tysons Corner, Va. and Research Triangle Park, N.C. among them.
January 21, 2014, 7am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Morgan Brown

As noted here many times, demographic changes in the workforce are key to understanding the movement to create more urban environments.

In this article, Eliot Brown writes how some auto-oriented office parks are planning to convert to walkable, mixed-use job centers. While Tysons Corner may be the best example, Brown clears that it is part of a nation-wide urban planning movement.

"Planners in places like Bellevue, Wash., and White Flint, Md., also are engaging in large-scale makeovers with mixed-use towers as a response to a generation of young workers who like downtowns and employer preferences shifting away from suburban campuses. 

Another bastion of isolated office parks, the 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, recently revamped its future development plans to encourage retail and housing, which had been prohibited there until 2012.

Brown adds a cautionary note. "It's still too early to tell whether these transformations will succeed," he notes, about the plans that "try to convert sprawling areas built for car-dependent commuters and shoppers into 24-hour walkable communities." Ed McMahon, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a Washington-based real-estate think, elaborates:

"There's probably more plans for suburban development like [Tysons Corner] than there are going to be successful projects."

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Published on Monday, January 20, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal - U.S.
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