Rachel Rouse, director of interiors for HOK’s Dallas office, believes higher education could be the answer to downtown Dallas’ office vacancies. In a contributed article for DCEO, she shares the potential benefits and challenges of bringing higher education institutions to downtown.
Excerpted from DCEO:
Through much of 2019, Dallas-Fort Worth was one of the hottest markets in the United States for new office leases. But all those leases, representing millions of square feet of real estate, barely put a dent in the region’s existing stock of office space. Metro Dallas continues to have one of the nation’s highest rates of office vacancy, especially downtown, where nearly a quarter (23.9 percent) of office space sat vacant at the start of this year.
Given current trends, Dallas would need another decade of robust leasing activity to fill all our dormant office space, which is why we need to look beyond the business sector for solutions. I believe higher-education offers a viable one.
What would downtown Dallas look like if it were home to more institutions of higher learning? Our shops and restaurants would immediately benefit from increased foot traffic and energy, and our buildings would enjoy new uses that make them more flexible and desirable. Classes could be held in both commercial spaces and public buildings, like City Hall, giving students valuable real-world experiences learning alongside the very companies and institutions that could employ them after graduation.
Leased university space in downtown buildings could also serve to broaden and expand a school’s brand, creating opportunities for new partnerships with the corporate community and potential new revenue streams. It’s easy to envision a business wanting to rent out a university’s downtown lecture hall or events space for corporate training or galas.