Modernizing Suburban Office and Industrial Zoning

Zoning Practice — December 2014

By Arista Strungys, FAICP, Christopher Jennette, AICP


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The ubiquitous suburban office park has fallen out of favor. In many communities, the shift away from this type of single-purpose, auto-oriented development is becoming apparent through increases in vacancies and sharp declines in new office construction.

In most cases, this shift is not primarily due to aging structures or poor marketing but is simply the result of changing market demands. Employees increasingly want to work in a mixed use environment that allows them to accomplish a number of daily tasks. Similarly, employers want to occupy spaces that are flexible, sustainable, and adaptable to their daily needs and long-term goals, and developers want to build projects that appeal to a wider pool of potential tenants.

This issue of Zoning Practice explains how obsolete suburban office and industrial zoning regulations may be preventing desirable new development or adaptive reuse. It provides guidance to help communities evaluate their current regulations, and it introduces concepts and regulatory approaches that can set the direction for substantive code revisions to foster economic competitiveness.


Date Published
Dec. 1, 2014
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Arista Strungys, FAICP
Arista Strungys, AICP, is a Principal at Camiros, Ltd. Her area of expertise is zoning and development regulations, and she has worked with communities across the country of all sizes in drafting development regulations. She is experienced in all types of regulatory techniques, including traditional controls, place-based zoning, form-based coding, design guidelines, and sustainable development.

Christopher Jennette, AICP
<p>Chris Jennette is a planner, landscape architect, and urban designer with over ten years of experience working as a consultant in communities across the US.</p><p>Chris is skilled at crafting clear, concise development regulations that utilize best practices and creative, contextual approaches to meeting a community&rsquo;s development needs. He is adept at evaluating on-the-ground development conditions and ensuring that regulations relate to both local character and<br />adopted land use policy. Additionally, he is skilled at communicating complex regulatory concepts through simple<br />illustrations that enhance ordinance legibility and promote consistency in application.</p><p>Chris&#39; recent experience includes work on a variety of zoning codes and unified development ordinances for communities including Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Maine; Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Keene, New Hampshire; Buffalo, Saratoga Springs, and Rochester, New York; New Orleans, Louisiana; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Corpus Christi, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; Trenton, New Jersey; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.</p>