Demand Grows for Smart-Growth Work Environments
January 4th, 2012 by Elaine Clisham
According to a survey done by commercial real estate firm CBRE of tenants in its New Jersey properties, the three most important amenities sought by firms as they evaluate office space are:
- Easy access to a variety of food choices (22.4 percent);
- Access to transit (16.4 percent); and
- Access to downtown (11.9 percent).
Being able to offer these amenities has apparently become an important factor in a company’s ability to recruit and retain talent, and properties without them are at a serious disadvantage. (This article in Real Estate Weekly sums up well the key findings of the survey.)
This is one more piece of evidence that Garden Staters want more than just a workspace to go to; they want to work in a place that offers them walkable access to amenities, such as food or a dry cleaner or a gym or a bank. The Monmouth University poll co-commissioned by New Jersey Future in September highlighted these same preferences, and similar trends have increasingly been showing up nationwide.
Large organizations have the ability to specify that such amenities be present in order for a property to be considered and, as the Real Estate Weekly article points out, some are even opting to build new facilities in order to ensure these amenities are included. But what of the smaller employers that also need office space but don’t have the clout to make similar demands?
Here in New Jersey, the good news is that even the smallest company doesn’t have to look very far to find those top three amenities cited as “must-haves.” There are many places in the Garden State where these amenities already exist. The state’s traditional downtowns offer a variety of eating options, plus other amenities, and many of them are reachable by transit. (A quibble with the Real Estate Weekly article: its discussion of transit focuses entirely on the need for workers to get from New Jersey satellite offices to larger offices in New York, and doesn’t mention their need to get from their New Jersey homes to their New Jersey offices without a long and arduous commute by car.) In addition, many of these smart-growth places – we looked at Morristown and New Brunswick in a recent report – tend to do better on a property-tax-per-acre basis than some other environments.
These trends offer a winning scenario for all involved. Employers of any size can use a downtown location to their recruiting advantage, and those who select downtown locations will be providing their workers with a variety of food options with a side of local character; with easily accessible amenities; and in many cases with access to transit; and the increased activity will ultimately strengthen the downtown itself.