I was reviewing the recovery plans for the four major downtowns on the West Coast- Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles- and found that almost none will make their office space more competitive. In terms of business productivity, do these places still matter?

The modern financial district grew up in the 1980s due to consolidation in finance and other industries. In San Francisco, big developers replaced historic buildings of five, 10, and 20 stories with canyons of slick high-rises.

Today, telecommuting, Zoom, and Slack have turned the office into a three-day-a-week clubhouse for meetings and face-to-face collaboration. Those jobs will be in the region regardless of whether they are downtown or in the suburbs. Aesthetically, we might want those jobs in the center city, but there’s little business reason for them to be there. We may be back to the days when only executives and very specialized professionals work downtown.

Stay tuned for additional posts on the recovery strategies for individual cities.