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The New American Ghost Town: Suburban Office Parks

Suburban office parks are achieving the status of ghost towns in the Washington, D.C. area.
July 22, 2015, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"There are 71.5 million square feet of vacant office space in the Washington region, much of it piled in office parks. That’s enough emptiness to fill the Mall four times over, with just enough left to fill most of the Pentagon, the granddaddy of office buildings," reports Dan Zak.

Zak adds: "If office space was a commodity, we would make a killing by selling our excess in bulk to San Francisco, where it’s so scarce and costly, according to Quartz, that start-up employees are starting to work in shopping malls."

The article is an in-depth look at the suburban office park, with anecdotes of specific examples of vacant office buildings from the Washington D.C. described in colorful detail as modern ghost towns. The article also goes way, way back in tracing the roots of the suburban office park—all the way back to Thomas Jefferson's writings about the American distrust of cities.

The trends in suburban office parks also run counter to the more common narratives about the Washington D.C. area: of a rapidly gentrifying urban core, of expanding transit system, and of worsening car commutes. Rather, according to Zak: "Factor in the D.C. region’s net outward migration, its slowing growth rate and the government erosion wrought by sequestration, and you’ve got a problem.The office-market artery of Interstate 270 is shriveling, according to a June report prepared for the Montgomery County Planning Department. Last year, federal agencies vacated 7,315 buildings, abandoning 47 million square feet of office and warehouse space, Federal News Radio says."

Full Story:
Published on Monday, July 20, 2015 in The Washington Post
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