What is a business park? Definition and meaning
A business park, sometimes known as an office park, is a large plot of land where many office buildings are constructed. The businesses that occupy the offices are commercial enterprises, not industrial ones (if they are industrial, only their office sections might be in a business park).
You will find no residential properties (dwellings) in a business park.
They are popular in suburban areas, where land and development prices are much cheaper, and building codes are less restrictive than in town centers.
Most business parks are located near highways (UK: motorways) or main roads.
Arlington Business Park in Reading, UK, has beautifully landscaped gardens and ponds. Apart from spacious offices, it also offers conference rooms, video conferencing services, virtual office services, extensive on-site car parking, reception services, and a phone-answering service. (Image: primefind.net)
Business park developers usually plan out the whole project carefully, including access roads, parking, landscaping and the positioning and usage of office buildings.
Rent or buy option
In most cases, if you want to move your company into a business park, you have the option of either purchasing buildings or renting office space.
Some parks give buyers the option of joining an association where they become owners of park space. The association will collect a fee to cover the costs of basic maintenance, security and landscaping.
Many business parks are industry specific, i.e. a business park may focus on hi-tech companies, while another has a high proportion of pharmaceutical and biotech businesses.
Business parks are popular with businesses because they are usually cheaper to buy or rent (per square foot), have plenty of parking space, and may be appealing for customers who like to visit areas where several companies are grouped together.
Business parks and inner-city decay
A significant percentage of most countries’ populations are against business parks. Like out-of-town shopping malls and giant supermarkets, they say they have destroyed downtown areas.
Many towns and cities across North America, Western Europe and other advanced economies have suffered from serious downtown dereliction. Fifty years ago they used to be the hub of the community, while today they are mostly rundown and in serious decay.
Another criticism of business parks and out-of-town retail outlets is that they encourage urban sprawl and make commuters and shoppers use their cars rather than public transport, which increases pollution and traffic jams. Nearly all parts of a city have direct bus and subway (UK: underground) routes to downtown, this is not the case with modern retail and business parks, i.e. to get to them you either have to change buses/trains a lot or go by car.
Considering moving to a business park?
While moving to a business park may seem appealing, you need to be sure it is the best thing for your company. Consider the following:
– Is your business the type that needs to be near customers and potential customers?
– Would your business benefit from being close to other similar businesses?
– Does your business need to be near its suppliers, or do you subcontract work that needs close supervision?
– Would it benefit your business if all customers and employees had easy access to parking?
– What is your total office space requirement and how much are you able to afford?
Pros and cons of a downtown premises
– Visibility: more people will see your company as they walk or drive by.
– Address: a downtown address may have more prestige.
– Public Transport: public transport networks are mainly geared towards easy access to the city center. This might mean it is easier for your workers to commute.
– Services: you will be close to services such as banks, post offices, print shops, etc. Your employees may prefer to be near places to eat, shop, and relax after work.
– Parking: this may be very difficult, expensive, and in some large cities virtually non-existent.
– Deliveries: delivering supplies is much more complicated in town centers.
– Health: pollution and noise levels are much higher downtown.
– Space: as office space is much more expensive, the number of square feet per employee will be lower compared to a business park.
Pros and cons of a business park
– Parking: employees and customers will have no problem parking their vehicles.
– Driving: many employees, especially in the United States, prefer being able to commute by car.
– Nice offices: business park offices are modern, well-equipped and spacious. Most of them have pleasant gardens, and even ponds with ducks and other wildlife.
– Health: pollution and noise levels will generally be lower than in city centers. However, if there is a major highway nearby, this might not be the case.
– Security: business parks have CCTV security videos and guards patrolling. If you have a small business, your premises is less likely to be burgled in a business park.
– Charges: management and estate maintenance costs, which have to be paid either monthly, quarterly or annually, may be surprisingly high.
– What was there before? Some business parks are built on former derelict industrial areas. Customers and workers might not like this.
–Commuting: employees who do not drive, or have no car, may find it harder to get to work (compared to a downtown office).
– Services: compared to a downtown office, there will be fewer shops, places to eat, banks and post offices nearby.
– Employee bonding: with fewer places to socialize after work, employees may spend less free time together.
Video – Alrington Business Park, UK
This video of Alrington Park, Reading, UK, shows not only that it has attractive and spacious offices, but also a nature trail and footpaths surrounding its 4-acre lake.
According to employee comments, they enjoy working in the park’s environment. It is well-connected with the M4 (a major highway), a train station and bus stops at its doorstep.