Looking for ‘city’ living in the suburbs? Some are finding it in aging office parks. – By Katherine Shaver August 5 at 3:24 PM


Keisuke and Idalia Yabe, who bought a townhouse at Montgomery Row, a development in the Rock Spring Park office complex in North Bethesda, Md., sit on their rooftop with their daughter, Mela, and their dog. (Jason Andrew for The Washington Post)

From the rooftop terrace of their new townhouse, Keisuke and Idalia Yabe take in their suburban Maryland neighborhood: a staid, 1970s-era office park of glass office buildings and concrete parking garages.

The Yabes say they have found the advantages of urban living in a shorter commute and the ability to walk to shopping centers and a park. They also have what feels like the best of suburbia — mature trees, plentiful parking, Bethesda’s sought-after schools and a more affordable mortgage.

From the Washington and New York suburbs to North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, traditional corporate campuses that have struggled since the Great Recession are trying to transform from sterile worksites into vibrant mini-towns. In addition to housing, they’re adding restaurants, grocery stores, playgrounds and outdoor concert spaces — anything to draw people in and make them want to stay.

Although it might sound strange at first, the Yabes say, living in an office park feels convenient and even a bit hip.

“The location is ideal,” said Keisuke Yabe, 45, after returning from an evening walk with their 7-month-old daughter, Mela, just as the sun ducked behind a 14-story office building.

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