Mixed-use, connected office spaces with numerous amenities are becoming more popular as millennials are coming into decision-making roles at their places of employment. The landscape of traditional office spaces has changed as this younger generation has matured in the job market and brought with them a new set of expectations for their work space. We discussed this topic recently on our Transforming Cities Podcast. You can find that episode here.

For many, the classic office buildings of the 70s and 80s just won’t cut it. Low ceilings, limited natural lighting, and a dizzying sea of cubicles aren’t exactly magnets for young talent. But it goes beyond the interior of an office; the thought of walking into a lobby, onto an elevator, and upstairs with only a lunch in a kitchen to break up the day is equally daunting.

What Do Millennials Want?

Now that we’ve established the type of setting that millennials aren’t flocking to – well, what do they want?

Millennials gravitate towards places that are a blend of live, work, and play. These settings fuse community, leisure, and business. They’re not 40-story glass and stucco towers, but rather mixed-use communities that are connected to bike paths, walking trails, and public transportation. You have an office component with ground floor retail, and perhaps some green space, a fast casual option or fitness attached.

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Sara Needham, general manager and business partner of RISE Collaborative Workspace in Denver, said the location of their office was incredibly important.

“We needed it to be convenient and centrally located,” she said. The location is above a Snooze restaurant and U.S. Bank, next to a Trader’s Joes.

Rise Workspace
  

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Those walkable amenities are key for creating a “one stop shop” for both business and life, she said. So while the inside is equally attractive – natural lighting, unique decor, a variety of public and private spaces – the location itself is critical.

Creating a Millennial Friendly Office Environment

The generations that are driving the shift typically don’t work the strict nine to five hours of old, and not all of them drive cars to and from the office. They have different needs and different wants for a workplace. Convenience is king, and sustainability is preferred.

Enter Scott Arnoldy of Triten Real Estate. He focuses a lot of his development efforts on placemaking mixed-use environments. These places are unique, and have a modern, cool feeling to them.

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“That’s kind of where my passion lies – trying to take something and completely reinvent or think it, renovate it, or do an adaptive reuse of it,” he said on our Transforming Cities Podcast.

Triten is involved in a project called M-K-T in Houston. The 12-acre site has five industrial buildings that will be repurposed into a walkable environment with parks, public art and 200,000 square feet of offices, and retail.

What will be an open environment that is pedestrian, bike, and business friendly is an example of the exact sort of development many younger generations are attracted to. Users of the space will be able to work, walk, shop and play all within that acreage.

Arnoldy said that Houston is a great “ground zero” for the broader dynamic that’s going on in the country in terms of real estate.

“We’ve got a pretty ugly office market,” he said of Houston, and explained that there is a lot of vacancy. “The only thing that is leasing right now is something that’s either new, unique, or different.”

So these old, industrial buildings that can be converted into creative, vibrant, mixed-use space are doing well. High ceilings, exposed HVAC, boilers, and even concrete floors can be more attractive than sterile carpeted, stucco areas.

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“The only thing that is leasing right now is something that’s either new, unique, or different.”

Scott Arnoldy, Triten Real Estate

These are the environments that millennials thrive in – plenty of natural light comes in and there’s access to fresh air. Open, collaborative workspaces allow for both social and productive social interaction with coworkers.

Transforming Cities Podcast

We cover a variety of topics on our Transforming Cities podcast. It is focused on learning about what inspires and motivates the unique voices we feature, and applying their valuable stories or lessons to our own work. If you're a new listener, you can follow along at authenticff.com/transformingcities or you can simply subscribe through your favorite apps including iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher. The episode featuring Scott Arnoldy can be found here.

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