Working Downtown

Anton Troianovski has a nice article in the Wall Street Journal about the reversing trend of white-collar office jobs moving from suburban office parks to downtown skyscrapers.

(from wallyg on Flickr)

I've worked in just about every type of office environment... I've worked at companies in the heart of downtown, deep in the suburbs, and in urban wastelands. I've been at places that are transit and bicycle friendly, and I've been at places where no one has any option but to drive. Personally, I don't think anything beats the amenities and transportation options that come with working downtown. Of course, not everyone agrees.

A lot of the discussion in the article focuses on the theory that Americans like cities again for the first time in decades, they hate long commutes, they want to live close to downtown, and companies are wise to locate where talent is. I think this is mostly true, but I'm not sure it's the driving force behind these movements.

Troianovski mentions the fact that Detroit, a city that few would disagree is in bad shape, lured Blue Cross Blue Shield back downtown by offering a generous incentive package. To me, this suggests that companies are primarily motivated by the almighty dollar. It also serves as evidence that cities and suburbs are, to an extent, in a zero-sum game to land companies and jobs. So when urban mayors dismiss companies leaving downtown and rattle off talking points about cooperative regionalism, it concerns me.