Rediscovering the Suburbs: An untapped opportunity

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What do Millennials want? While it might surprise you, according to Ivy Zelman, Chief Executive Officer at Zelman & Associates, they want suburban life. In fact, a recent survey from The Zillow Group on Consumer Housing Trends says, “it’s a common myth that all Millennials are short-term buyers seeking homes in trendy, urban neighborhoods.” The report reveals that, in reality, half of all Millennials live in suburban communities.


Speaking to a room full of office investors and tenants at our JLL offices last week, Zelman said her research has shown that an overwhelming majority of these Millennials living in the suburbs want to work in the suburbs too, but it’s not an option. She encouraged those in the room to take advantage of attractive cap rates and better yields in the suburbs and “be a pioneer,” also citing the old adage “if you build it they will come.”

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MilliporeSigma has already taken Zelman’s advice. The company is currently building a 280,000-square-foot, $115 million campus in Burlington, MA. Paul Asmar, MilliporeSigma’s Head of Real Estate and Property Services, says the campus will have an abundance of amenities to help make the organization “an employer of choice in the suburbs.” He said the company draws its employees primarily from North and West of the city, and doesn’t have a problem attracting top talent outside of Boston.

Endurance International Group, which recently purchased Constant Contact, has also had success in the suburbs. Also located in Burlington, Ryan Buckley, the company’s Senior Director of Measures, says strong leadership, rather than location, is what plays the most prominent role in finding, attracting, and retaining employees.


While the suburbs are working for some, there are still obviously those that need to be Downtown. Converse recently relocated from North Andover to Boston’s Lovejoy Wharf because they “had to be at the center of their youthful brand,” according to George Hadgiannis, Director of Global Real Estate Portfolio Management at Converse/Nike. However, with many employees still living in the suburbs, the company offers flexible working policies for those that still want to work closer to home.

While no one is debating the benefits of working in Downtown Boston, from everything we heard last week it’s clear many companies are having success in the suburbs and based on demographic trends, there is clearly a demand for more amenity-rich, accessible suburban workspaces.

Check out some additional photos from our suburban event below and feel free to contact Frank Petz or Matt Daniels with any questions.

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