(What to do about) Suburban office property obsolescence
This white paper, Suburban Office Obsolescence: Quantifying Challenges and Opportunities, by the commercial property consultancy Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, addresses higher value real estate markets and the declining interest in outlying properties dependent on automobility and "the flight to quality" locations that are transit-connected, but not necessarily in the center city.
They estimate that 14% to 22% of total suburban office space is obsolescent, but some markets, like Suburban Boston and San Francisco remain strong, and certain suburban locations, with transit connections (like Reston, Virginia) or great highway connections are strong also (see "Silver line reshaping commercial office market in Fairfax County").
(This reminds me of a conversation I butted into at a CNU conference a couple years ago. A workout manager for a commercial property in Gaithersburg--which will go unnamed--suggested putting itinerant markets in the mall's parking lots. I said he'd be better off 'tearing the property down and doing something else with it.')
Some of the options, not particularly attractive sounding to me, include conversion to storage centers.
Note that as this relates to the Washington, DC area, this report builds on an earlier one, The Success of Best-in-Class Properties in Washington's Bifurcated Office Market, which makes the argument that office consolidation, especially related to federal agencies in the suburbs, has "produced" a large amount of less than Class A properties which are not appealing despite lower prices, as top properties, with transit access and a wide array of amenities, are grabbing market share, in the center city and the suburbs.
Decision-making flow chart from the report