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Conshohocken: The suburb as boardroom, not bedroom, community p2

9/11/2014 | Real Estate Blog

Back in the day, during the 1950s and ’60s, in the time of “Mad Men,” there was such a thing as a “bedroom community.” It was an apt description if you were one of the workers, mostly men, who commuted from the suburbs to their jobs in cities like Philadelphia and New York. Bedroom communities may have had a downtown with some retail, but there was little industry, few office buildings that would lure jobs out of Center City or Manhattan.

Fast forward half a century, and you have a different paradigm. The younger members of the workforce, the millennials, are more likely to live in urban areas than suburban areas, more likely to take public transit that to drive (they may even shun the “station car” of the ’50s and ’60s).

Millennials prefer to live in the city, but they will work in the suburbs if transit is convenient and travel times are short. Conshohocken has two train stations as well as a bike path linking it to central Philly.

Conshohocken is also adjacent to communities with more expensive homes, communities where top executives could live. Opening or relocating businesses in the developments we were discussing in our last post would help to reduce their commutes, too.

Chances are that the 400 West Elm and Seven Tower Bridge projects will open their doors before the other two. The designs are set, and construction could start soon. The developers are hoping they’ll be ready in 2016, though no one has revealed the names of major tenants.

These developments should signal to city planning agencies that it’s time to rethink their commercial real estate strategies. In the past, Philadelphia and other major cities have operated on the assumption that businesses locate downtown while workers live in suburbs within reach of downtown. Conshohocken is turning that formula on its head: It will be the boardroom community, and central Philly will be the bedroom community.

Source: The New York Times, “Conshohocken, Pa., an Old Steel Town, Now an Office Hub,” Jon Hurdle, Sept. 2, 2014