Advances in technology and changing workforce demographics could spell doom for the suburban office market in New Jersey.
Most of the suburban office buildings in NJ were built in the 1980s.
And, in many cases, the interior of those structures are now obsolete. Millennials in their 20s don’t want to spend an eight-hour workday there, said Rutgers University economist James Hughes.
“They want live, work and play environments. There’s much less differentiation from 8 o’clock at night to 12 noon,” he said. “They can work anyplace anytime, and living in an isolated suburban area is not what they want.”
Younger workers prefer to live and work in edgy environments in Hoboken, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia, and that’s draining the economic vitality of Central New Jersey, Hughes said.
“We have a new generation driving the workforce. They were born and raised in suburbia. They want to get out of suburbia,” he said. “So they’re really looking for edgy environments, rental housing environments, 24/7 living environments.”
To invigorate those legions of office campuses, Hughes said, planners will have to need to bring some urban vibe to the suburbs.
Unless that happens, he said, many of the suburban office developments could fall into disuse.