Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Say Hello to a Call Center

I opened my (figurative) newspaper and was struck by a surprise: "Fobare starts Richardson's first spec building in a decade." The building is at 1225 Alma Rd, between Arapaho Rd and Collins Blvd. The surprise is the use the developer envisions for it. Not another data center, like what has rejuvenated much of the old Collins Radio site. Data centers are stuffed with computers, not employees. The developer says the new office building will be ideal for a call center. A call center is stuffed with people.
The building has eight parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, which is a rarity in office real estate, and makes it an ideal location for a call center or other office user with a need for a high parking ratio.
After the jump, what should I think of this?

There are lots of pros and cons.

Both the new office building and a large vacant property just to the north are within walking distance of the Arapaho DART station, so naturally you'd expect high-density, mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD) in both places. And you'd be wrong. The city already bungled the development of the empty land to the north, leading us towards a 408 unit GreenVUE apartment building on the site.

Now, we're about to get a call center, too. Jobs in a call center pay more than minimum wage, but less than average wages for all jobs, so the attractiveness of the jobs is not a reason to welcome this. Still, a call center is better than another server farm this close to the DART station. Call centers employ lots of people, generating business for nearby businesses. The Arapaho DART station is sadly isolated. It's in need of nearby places to walk to work, eat or play. It would be better if the apartment building and office building were built with some synergy between them, along with some retail. It all could be a catalyst for a new urban center around that DART station. The whole could be greater than the sum of the parts. Instead, we're getting getting yet another typical 1980s-style development form again, where the parts don't fit together and the whole sparks nothing.

Oh, well, at least it's redevelopment, which is better than an empty building. In the end, I make my peace with it. Better than an empty building. Damning with faint praise, I know. But it's the most enthusiasm I can muster.

1 comment:

DennisTheBald said...

Part of the reason the Arapaho DART station is so isolated is that it's surrounded by cars. You have to dodge all these motorists hell bent on kill 44,000 of us every year to get to the train station. The bridge under Greenville is a nice touch, but getting across 75 is way harder.

Yeah I guess there are some people that will drive to the train station and leave their cars there, but there are always lots of empty car spaces and people fight over the bike lockers. Partly because CoRichardson has started to get with the bike idea, biking to the Arapaho DART station is practical for people that live on the east side of 75. Get some sort of off grade ped crossing under or over 75 and people will use it.