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From Suburbia to Downtown: A Look at Savvy Companies Making the Switch

Bumble Bee Foods is moving their offices to the Showley Brothers Candy Factory building in East Village at Petco Park

Last week I came across an article “Companies Say Goodbye to the ‘Burbs” in the Wall Street Journal that resonated with me. As you can deduce from the title, the article provided a comprehensive look at why so many companies are “abandoning vast suburban campuses for urban offices nearer to the young, educated and hyper-connected workers who will lead their businesses into the digital age.” Citing moves from suburban Illinois to Chicago (Motorola), and from Silicon Valley to San Francisco (Pinterest), the article went on to state what I’ve observed firsthand with companies in downtown San Diego:

“After decades of big businesses leaving the city for the suburbs, U.S. firms have begun a new era of corporate urbanism….The bottom line: companies are under pressure to establish an urban presence that projects an image of dynamism and innovation….”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The next generation of employees is looking for a lot more than a job. They are looking for a lot more than a cubicle. They are looking for a lifestyle, which can often only be found in a metropolitan setting. From short commutes, to shopping, dining, and networking opportunities within walking distance; young talent is interested in having it all…and having it all within a few blocks. They can find that in downtown San Diego, which is precisely why companies like Bumble Bee Foods and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney are moving — or moving back — into our city.

My client, Bumble Bee Foods, currently based in Kearny Mesa is soon to move into a 30,000 square foot historic building adjacent to Petco Park. When I talked with CEO Chris Lischewski, his main reason for moving the company was in line with the corporations featured in the article. He believes that the move to downtown San Diego will foster an even more vibrant culture within his team. Similarly, national law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who, years ago, had been operating out of Carmel Valley, moved back downtown, and they couldn’t be happier about it.

As far as tech companies and startups go? I can’t even count the number that have moved into downtown San Diego over the past few years for the very same reasons. When it comes to restaurant options, entertainment, housing and excitement, the suburbs just can’t compete with the totality of lifestyle perks offered by a metropolitan area.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: downtown is a dynamic place to live and work, and it’s only going to become more vibrant and more desirable as a hub for business in coming years.

Jason Hughes is chairman, CEO, and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company with offices across the nation. A pioneer in the field of tenant representation, Jason has exclusively represented tenants and buyers for more than 30 years. He writes about topics in commercial real estate from a tenant’s perspective on his blog, Downtown Dirt. Contact Jason at 1-844-662-6635 or jason@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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