Forum Feature: Giving Office Parks a New Lease on Life
March 20th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff
Holmdel’s iconic Bell Labs Research complex — the site of at least one Nobel prize discovery — now has another distinction, one that residents and elected officials would sooner do without.
The circa 1962 complex is the largest empty office building in the nation.
Architecturally significant for its mirrored glass façade, the 2 million-square-foot facility has sat abandoned on its 473-acre campus since 2006.
The empty building exemplifies the deep trouble that New Jersey’s office parks and shopping centers face, victims of the recent trend that favors reinvesting in urban centers over continuing suburban and exurban sprawl — a trend taking hold across the state and the country.
This urban migration compounds the problem of an existing glut of retail space that real estate analyst Jeff Otteau predicts will meet the state’s needs for another 17 years. He also cites a surfeit of office space that won’t be used up until 2043. And because the state’s suburban corporate and commercial construction boomed more than 20 years ago, the New Jersey League of Municipalities Educational Foundation calls the current building stock not just aging but obsolete.