Are Corporations Heading Back To The City?

The insurance giant Aetna has moved nearly all its employees out of an office complex a dozen miles south of Hartford, Connecticut. It may end up demolishing all 1.4 million square feet of the suburban workplace — less than 30 years after it was constructed. Meanwhile, in Holmdel, New Jersey, an office complex built in the late 1950s and 1960s for Bell Labs — and once was a hive of 6,000 workers — is now empty. As a result, the 1.9 million square feet of buildings could be razed, too.

The future of sizeable suburban business complexes looks less secure than in the past 50 years. Some companies that once occupied outlying, large-acreage complexes have shrunk and no longer need the space. Other companies have moved some of their activities closer to an urban core.
United Air Lines will begin shifting its operational headquarters from suburban Elk Grove, Illinois, to downtown Chicago this year. Likewise, quicken-Detroit suburbs, Quicken Loans is relocating 1,700 headquarters personnel to a downtown that many people had written off: Detroit’s.

“It’s a fairly widespread phenomenon,”