Tag Archives: Denver

Suburban Office Complex’s are Obsolete

Something for Saskatoon business owners to remember.

What tenants want in an office building is changing, and the old model of the isolated suburban office park is going the way of the fax machine. That’s according to a new report from Newmark, Grubb, Knight and Frank [PDF], one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the world.

Suburban office parks are losing their luster, industry analysts say.

The old-school office park does “not offer the experience most of today’s tenants are seeking,” according to NGKF. As a result, the suburban office market is confronting “obsolescence” on a “massive scale.” More than 1,150 U.S. office properties — or 95 million square feet — may no longer pencil out, the authors estimate, though a number of those can be salvaged with some changes.

“Walkability and activated environments are at the top of many tenants’ list of must haves,” the report states. Office parks in isolated pockets without a mix of uses around them must have “in-building amenities” –including a conference center, a fitness center, and food service — to remain competitive, according to NGKF: “If tenants are not going to be able to walk to nearby retail or a nearby office property to get lunch, they had better be able to get it at their own building.”

This is the same for many businesses.

The study took a close look at suburban office submarkets in and around Denver, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. In the “southeast suburban” Denver office district, for example, office buildings within a quarter-mile of the new light rail line had a 1.7 percent vacancy rate. For those outside a quarter-mile, vacancy rates were nine percentage points higher.

NGKF’s findings don’t mean that office tenant preferences are in perfect alignment with walkability, however.

This explains the tension in Saskatoon’s governance who are older and therefore prefer to drive.

Parking was also important to the marketability of buildings in suburban Denver. The report notes that a lot of older management personnel prefer to drive, while younger workers want transit access. So buildings that offered both were in the highest demand.

So do you build a office complex (or a city) for the past or for those you want to attract.  So far around here, it is about building for the past.

The Weeklies

In the Denver suburbs, as in much of the U.S., the Great Recession turned formerly stable families into the new homeless—and left many living in budget hotels.

At any given time, roughly 20 to 40 guests are staying long term. Since they pay by the week, they call themselves “weeklies.” To score the cheap rates, $210 for individuals and slightly more for families, they must pay in advance. Residents sign a form that lists the activities that could get them kicked out (mostly involving drugs) and warns that they won’t get reimbursed if they leave early, no exceptions. Some families stay only for a few weeks, some for months, giving the hotel the feeling of a dormitory. A rotating cast of front-desk clerks sells candy and rations towels and washcloths. Though some of the clerks are kind and helpful, the guests think of them as enforcers, and the clerks tend to treat the weeklies less as customers than as undergraduates stealing toilet paper and sneaking in hot plates.

With its 121 rooms, cleaning service, and keycards, the place is not a fleabag. But it is also not the kind of hotel where the coffee pots and hair dryers reliably work or the comforters match the drapes. A traveler stopping here to avoid bad weather might notice the difference: a clerk who takes a little too long to offer grudging help, an absence of name tags for the staff, an empty spot on the placard that is supposed to provide the manager’s name, a stained lobby carpet, a guest or two with a slightly illicit aura.

Hotels have always served people who need an off-the-record place to live—sex workers, drug dealers—and the Ramada has its share of people who are hiding out. (Bounty hunters come to the hotel so often that the weeklies know their names and say hi.) But in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the Ramada’s clientele shifted away from such regulars to include suburban families who had been used to staying in hotels only on vacations. Many of the families still had incomes. Some had long been struggling members of the working class, fighting to stay better than broke; others had fallen suddenly out of the middle class.

Across the country, suburban poverty rose by more than half in the first decade of the new century. Families now find themselves navigating landscapes that were built around wealth: single-family houses that are sold, not rented; too few apartment buildings; and government agencies hidden at the far edge of the suburban ring, more responsive to trash-pickup complaints than rising hunger rates.

I think this article actually made me experience and emotion and cry.  Read the entire story and it will break your heart.

Contextless Football Thoughts

I was up at the lake this weekend and the little bit of football news I got was through Twitter.  It’s always nerve wracking to come home and wonder if your team or teams won.

Okay, let’s just admit that Notre Dame will probably be 10-2 heading into a BCS bowl game and we still won’t know very much about them.  Their schedule is really, really soft and they still can barely beat teams.  Yeah they beat Purdue but we know Purdue isn’t that great.  They beat Michigan State which is nice but Michigan State lost to a directional Michigan team and won’t be contending for the Big-Ten title this year.  We really don’t know much more about Notre Dame than we did before. 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders won ugly but it’s a win and they move to the top of the Western Conference standings with a win over the Edmonton Eskimos.  What was amazing about this game was the attendance in Edmonton, over 62,000 people in Commonwealth Stadium.

The University of Alberta Golden Bears stunned a ranked team for the second week in a row with a 27-7 victory Friday night over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night in Edmonton’s Foote Field.  I can’t say the loss was unexpected.  The Huskies were 2-0 heading in to the game but hadn’t played well at all.

The University of Miami Hurricanes Growing up, I hated the University of Miami Hurricanes, they represented everything that was bad about college football and on top of that, they gave the world Vinny Testaverde and no college should ever be forgiven for that.  Over the last couple of years I have warmed to the Hurricane’s and this year I had switched my allegiance from the Florida State Seminoles to the Hurricanes.  In that context, I was saddened to see them get blown out by Virginia Tech today.

Of course the good news today is that Denver is now 3-0 with Mr. Neckbeard having a QB rating of 92.1 while JaMarcus Russell’s problems continued with a QB rating of 22.6.  I have heard the stories for a couple of years about his work ethic and if they are true, this is just a case of defenses learning more about him than he knows about them which is not a recipe for success in the NFL.  While there is no doubt in my mind that Denver will not make the playoffs this year and will finish somewhere around 7-9, it’s nice to get the season started and stop hearing about Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall everyday.  It’s also nice to see that this Josh McDaniel kid can really coach. 

medium_Brady-quinn While I don’t really like Mangenius as a coach, I am fan of Brady Quinn but he looked horrible against the Baltimore Ravens defense today.  Then again, Derek Anderson didn’t look that great either.  That being said, I have a feeling that Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in their prime would have struggled against this defense.  Quinn went 6 for 8 for 34 yards and an interception. Anderson, who lost his starting job to Quinn last year, was 11 for 19 for 92 yards and three interceptions.

The Final Edition

I found this 20 minutes video of the last month of the Rocky Mountain News both beautiful and sad to watch.


Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

On one hand it was superbly done.  On the other hand watching people grieving the loss of their jobs and an institution that has published daily for 149 years and 311 days is quite emotional because you know it is happening all over the country in a lot of different industries.  I am glad they created this, it’s a story that everyone needs to see.