This recent article by Donald F. Smith Jr. who serves as President of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) of Southwestern Pennsylvania (Think Pittsburgh), What Property Owners Outside CBDs Can Do To Attract Expanding Industries, on National Real Estate Investor Online makes some excellent suggestions for investing in real estate right outside a central business district but many of the strategies could be used by anyone looking to invest in Philadelphia neighborhoods outside Center City or even any of the surrounding suburbs.

One thing I think Mr. Smith nailed is what companies and their employees are really looking for.

As much as budget factors into location decisions, companies choose locations based on how well the property and surrounding community fits their brand image and appeals to the talent they are trying to attract. Employees and potential employees not only want creative, amenities-rich workplace environments, they want to work in a neighborhood that makes them feel welcome and can provide them with a sense of belonging.

They care deeply about the surrounding community atmosphere and the type of identity it conveys. If they cannot easily or comfortably go out for a coffee break, take a client to lunch or get drinks with co-workers and friends after work, the property will raise immediate red flags.

The changing nature of real estate continues to show that companies and employees both place a high emphasis on amenities. Mr. Smith also mentions the high level of emphasis placed on location and particularly on-site fitness amenities. Convenience, access to experiences, and proximity to local businesses all seem to score high as well.

Looking to outfit your suburban office building with fitness or lifestyle amenities could be an excellent way to differentiate your office building and be a terrificĀ value-add real estate investment.