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Office shift to suburbs continues.

Eighty percent of all businesses are planning to relocate and/or expand within the next several years, according to a recent survey by the International Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives. of those planning to relocate, clearly one- third are specifically planning suburban office park and another 25 percent prefer a campus setting for their business.

The shift from central business districts to suburban office parks continues for several reasons. Tenants remain very aggressive in seeking out premium space for better value. Quality of life issues also remain at the forefront of a decision to relocate.

Suburban office parks will have a tremendous opportunity to respond to this extremely fluid real estate leasing market and high tenant interest during the coming year.

By offering many advantages over traditional business environments, suburban parks can creatively and successfully deliver what tenants want: Larger office space for lower costs, a healthier environment, comprehensive amenities, and convenience.

How we respond to these demands will be crucial in converting potential tenant interest into reality. Suburban parks must work to maximize these advantages in order to continue meeting the market and adapting to new tenant needs.

At EastRidge Properties -- a 2 million-square-foot portfolio of 18 buildings in four corporate parks in Westchester County, New York, managed by Albert B. Ashforth, Inc. -- $25 million is currently being invested into amenities, landscaping and building renovations.

With the understanding gained from many years of serving suburban tenants, EastRidge has developed several amenities that can help tenants increase their companies' productivity.

Child care is a very serious issue for many employees concerned with escalating costs, accessibility to their children and quality care. The EastRidge Children's Center, currently under construction on-site, will meet this employee need and give tenant companies a significant advantage in recruiting good employees and reducing turnover.

Transportation is another critical issue for suburban employers. Currently, we are exploring creative commuting options to expand our tenants' prospective employee pool to those who must rely on public transportation. Our free shuttle bus runs between the EastRidge parks and local bus and train stations. Lunchtime service to White Plains lets employees enjoy going downtown without the hassle of parking.

The EastRidge Conference Center, located in one of the parks, effectively increases the size of our tenants' offices without increasing the rents. Tenant companies use the Conference Center to host large meetings for which they have no room, as well as small gatherings away from typical office contractions.

Re-landscaping offers an opportunity to make the office park setting usable as well as beautiful. With the addition of picnic areas, park benches and walking trails, tenants and their employees can eat, socialize, exercise and enjoy the outdoors at lunch or during the course of the day.

Dining facilities, catering services, and short-notice food delivery provide the same conveniences to suburban tenants as are found in central business districts. These services make it easier for tenants to hold breakfast and lunch meetings and other special events, as well as for employees to grab a quick bite without having to leave the parks. Sundry shops also give workers access to items they may need during the course of the day without having to make a long trip.

The challenge of the suburban office park in this highly competitive and fluid real estate market is to seize the current opportunity before us. We must commit ourselves to reinvesting in these sites and adapting to new tenant requirements to insure our future success.
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Title Annotation:Review & Forecast, Section IV; International Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives survey reveals preference for suburban office park space and campus environments for business location
Author:Ziatyk, Michael J.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 27, 1993
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