Modern office spaces continue to pop up here and there throughout the city, enticing young professionals who favor shared, open areas at work. However, as Jon Hurdle observes in a New York Times article this morning, Philadelphia isn’t the only place trying to lure in millennials with quotidian urban-living attractions.
Developers in Conshohocken are having a go at it too.
Proving to be prime real estate for developers who see it as having all the right elements for bringing in residents/workers in the 20-to-30-something age range, Conshohocken's "office hub" reputation appears to be sealed as they seek to develop more of the area. Case in point, a list of new projects, three of which would be on the riverfront:
Four buildings totaling 1.25 million square feet are proposed, in what would be the first big additions to the town’s commercial real estate since the recession.
They are 400 West Elm, a 340,000-square-foot, 10-story structure on a wooded site; Seven Tower Bridge, covering 260,000 square feet on 10 floors; Millennium Four, a 300,000-square-foot project; and One Conshohocken, covering 350,000 square feet. The first three would be built on riverside sites.
Hurdle reports that, unlike Lower Merion Township (which "ran out of land," according to the executive managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank), Conshohocken is not lacking in that department. For this reason, developers are more willing to make projects "on relatively large footprints," which in turn, allows for "more open floors than would be possible on smaller site."
The open floor plans, of course, go back to attracting younger residents. Aside from more land that allows for further commercial development, developers think Conshohocken's location (near I-76 and I-476), proximity to public transportation, bike lanes into the city, and urban-y environment (proposed projects include apartments and townhouses) are other factors that could bring in more millennials:
The prospect of a big addition in local office space also reflects a desire by companies to attract educated employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are expected to seek jobs in industries such as technology, finance or health care but who do not want a traditional suburban lifestyle.
“Those folks want to live in new urban-type environments where the amenities and the urban setting and the transit orientation are also important,” said Steve Spaeder, senior vice president for development at Equus Capital Partners, developer of the 400 West Elm project. “Conshohocken has all of those elements.”
Hurdle also says that while developers push the "urban lifestyle," (i.e. talking up "the town's 42 restaurants"), they're also taking into consideration the future of these Gen Y-ers:
And they argue its well-financed public schools will prove a powerful draw compared with the notoriously underfinanced public schools in Philadelphia when couples have children — even if the targeted demographic group is currently reluctant to give up urban living.
Rents in the upcoming buildings average at about $30-per-square-foot. This is similar to rent in "central Philadelphia but that is significantly lower than city rates when taxes there are taken into account."
• Conshohocken, Pa., an Old Steel Town, Now an Office Hub [New York Times]
In other news...
• Willow Grove air base redevelopment narrowed down to four development groups [Business Journal]
• Gov. Corbett restores $10.5 million for One Ardmore Place, Cricket Lot project [Main Line Times]
• Two large apartment complexes sell in multimillion-dollar deals [Business Journal]