A big business getting into the Walkable trend is rather promising. OK, GE isn’t the first to do this, but they’re one of the biggest. I’m encouraged by a big company, with big money, making a move this way.
[…] the nature of GE’s Fairfield headquarters — along with details about its preferred landing spots — raise the possibility that costs may only play one role, and that the company leaning toward the kind of centralized, walkable communities that are in fashion now and away from an isolated, suburban office park like its current space. “It’s a trend that’s happening not just in Connecticut or even the U.S., but worldwide,” said Christopher Jones, vice president for research at the Regional Plan Association, a tri-state advocacy organization. The common thread in the locations GE has said to be eyeing is something Connecticut, for all its positive attributes, cannot offer — a big-city experience. “One thing that has become clear is that owners of suburban office parks are going to be scrambling to find ways to remain competitive,” said Sandy Paul, managing director for national market research for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a multinational real estate service firm headquartered in New York City. Paul is an author of a recently released NGKF report that found about 20 percent of suburban office space nationwide is in some stage of obsolescence, defined as lacking amenities or characteristics that allow the property to be competitive. If office environments can’t offer amenities, including access to food and fitness centers, as well as parking and transit access, potential employees will be less interested in working there. Access is also key, either by mass transit or highway, as well as parking, said Bethany Schneider, senior research analyst at NGKF. GE’s headquarters, on 68 acres off the Merritt Parkway, offers good highway access with a number of amenities, including a hotel, TV studio and helipad. In a Fox Business column published last week, unnamed GE insiders said the company was unimpressed with Connecticut’s pledge to match whatever financial proposal another state was offering, saying the decision was more complicated than that. The move toward cities comes from many factors, Jones said, including reduced crime, improved housing stock and generational preferences, such as waiting longer to get married, buy a house and have children.