In the 1960’s and 1970’s, CEOs abandoned cities to settle in suburbs. But today, large companies are moving back into cities in order to retain young workers who are postponing homeownership and prefer walkable areas. According to Real Capital Analytics Inc., “prices for commercial properties in highly walkable locations show significantly greater appreciation than car-dependent locations.” In the last 10 years, property values in central business regions have increased 125%, while highly walkable suburban properties have only risen 43%, and somewhat walkable or car-dependent properties roughly 22%. While preferences 50 years ago geared away from the hustle and bustle of the city, millennials are driving businesses into live/work/play environments with high walkability.
Expedia Inc. plans to move its headquarters from a Seattle suburb, where it was located for 20 years, to downtown Seattle. The downtown buildings will cost Expedia $228.9 million for 750,000 square feet, but the appeal of the city will be well worth the company’s employee retention. By 2018, Expedia plans to reboot their headquarters with bright, open offices, on-site dining, a fitness center, and hiking and running trails. But Expedia is not the only company relocating into the city.
Motorola Mobility LLC announced its new 600,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Chicago last year. Archer Daniels Midland Co. also made the decision to leave the suburbs to relocate to Chicago. Small companies like Autodesk Inc., are following the city trend, and plan to move their 200 employees from Waltham, Massachusetts into Boston. Moving into Boston will not only retain workers, but it will also help the company recruit from renowned colleges in the area. With many companies moving from suburbs to inner cities, the suburbs will be repurposed with everything from health clinics to city halls.