Welcome to the final installment of “Tales from the Field,” the five-week series of articles I’ve shared with all of you on lessons I’ve learned while, as the name implies, out in the field. This week, it’s time to talk about faith. Yes, faith. Sometimes believing in what you can’t fully see yet can turn out wonderfully, as is this case with this week’s story.
Recently I was working on Manhattan’s West Side and had a déjà vu moment. I recalled how that neighborhood looked, right where I was standing, just a few years prior. While it felt the same, the changes were dramatic. When I was in that same spot way back when, it was to design a space for a pioneer – a landlord who jumped into that building (and that neighborhood) on pure faith; faith that it would grow and develop into the destination it has become today. Long before the 7 line expansion, which is now changing everything, came to fruition, and there were the many amenities and restaurants that there are today, someone had to believe in the neighborhood’s potential, pushing the boundaries of what made for a great office location.
What’s next for the West Side? More good news, of course! With the 7 line expansion soon to be up and running, the neighborhood has become more accessible. Landlords are using the ease of transportation as a selling point to attract and retain tenants. As retail starts to bloom and restaurants begin to open their doors and welcome patrons, the West Side will simply become more and more desirable, renewing and rejuvenating surrounding blocks in the teens, twenties, thirties and on upward. Attractive rental rates south of those found in Midtown South and Soho will help the area continue to flourish. This transformation will cause neighborhoods to become interconnected, to blend into one another. And it’s not just offices — even the automotive dealerships are expanding their boundaries.
Landlords on the “outskirts” are taking notes. For instance, New Jersey waterfront developers are picking up on the trend and looking to attract these same tenants – the ones with faith – who know that the PATH and ferry might be just the ticket to getting a prime space in a new frontier. And then there’s Long Island City, perhaps the next business hub on the horizon. Brooklyn’s DUMBO is yet another success story and is quickly becoming the go-to location for a young workforce and those in the social media, creative and technology fields.
What’s next? The Bronx? How far will the boundaries extend? Who knows for sure, but we do know that with less and less places to locate, anything can happen. Landlords and tenants who are unafraid and prepared to get in early and take a chance can reap major rewards — and create new, thriving neighborhoods in the process.