Why Your Office Should NOT Move Downtown

We are huge proponents of moving your office downtown, but it simply does not meet the expectations of all tenants 

For the first time in decades, Birmingham residents and businesses are refocusing their attention on the city center. Office tenants are actively seeking locations convenient to their clients, customers and employees, while downtown residents want smaller living spaces with short commutes and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

Both commercial and residential tenants that move downtown have different objectives than those that remain in the suburbs. For example, businesses that are looking to recruit young talent are more likely to reposition their offices to the CBD. The millennial workforce is attracted to neighborhoods that provide a vibrant community spirit and an active lifestyle.  However, not every large company is jumping at the chance to move operations downtown.

A great example of an employer that has decided not to follow the trend is HealthSouth (soon to be renamed Encompass Health). When looking to relocate their headquarters, the leaders weighed every area and every determining factor very carefully. Their decision to build at Liberty Park was vigilant, ensuring the satisfaction of their employees most of whom live in the area. Another instance is Southern Company, who is currently renovating their new satellite location at The Colonnade. This location will be prime for their personnel, with excellent parking, access to major interstates and a lush campus.

If your company is considering the move downtown, here are a few points to consider before uprooting your team:

  1. Parking
    Parking downtown can be sparse, and securing your space could come at a premium. Many office buildings do not have dedicated decks or surface options. Often, employers pay per space, per month. Sometimes employee parking will involve a short walk, which is foreign to some Birmingham workers.
  2. Rent
    As more space is occupied and the market becomes more competitive, landlords are responding with higher rates, and tougher terms. Tenants are willing to pony up for unique downtown bones, but it’s not for everyone. Even though it’s attractive to have downtown digs, it might not always be the best solution for start-ups and new businesses who might prefer to settle on a more economical option as they build capital.
  3. Outdoor Space
    Many suburban office tenants are accustomed to verdant environments with trees, green spaces, and sometimes even walking trails. Some downtown offices occasionally offer rooftop terraces and outdoor meeting spaces, but they are rare and unexpected.

Similarly, residential realtors are adapting to a changing market, and getting to know which types of clients are attracted to the city center. Clients who want to live in the surrounding communities might value outdoor space, parking and noise level while city dwellers measure walkability, convenience and vibrancy to be more important.

Ultimately, in Birmingham we can have the best of both worlds. In a matter of minutes, you can drive from rural landscapes to metropolitan towers. In Birmingham, we really can have it all.

by Suzanne Echols