The New York Times this week published an article about the struggle of the Platinum Mile area–a section of Interstate 287 in Westchester County–“to find a new identity in a troubled economy and reduce its vacancy rate, now at 19 percent, up from 13 percent in 2002.”
According to the article, this area previously dealt with high vacancy rates in the 1980s and 1990s, when some Fortune 500 companies downsized or left, by luring a multitude of smaller companies from downtown White Plains. Now, some of these companies are returning to the city’s newly vibrant downtown. “As a result the Platinum Mile must lure new tenants once again — this time, business leaders say, by broadening the definition of an office park to include uses like education, housing, retail and recreation,” the article notes.
The story considers how other parts of the country have dealt with similar problems:
The challenges facing aging office parks are not unique to Westchester County. But around the country some have begun to adapt.
In Hyattsville, Md., for example, University Town Center has become a mixed-use development, and in Attleboro, Mass., a former Texas Instruments corporate campus now includes office buildings, a wastewater treatment plant and upscale residential units, according to a study presented last month at a conference by the Land Use Law Center of Pace University School of Law in White Plains.
The study, called “What’s Old Is New Again,” predicts that by 2025, more than 6.3 billion square feet of vacant office space will exist in the United States, at the same time that demand will grow for multifamily rental housing. It suggests rezoning to allow for residential uses.
The most successful office park retrofits, according to the study, are those with access to rail lines or major highways with transit access, which the I-287 corridor offers.