Economy Watch: How Millennials Are Reshaping U.S. Cities

A new Avison Young report explains how Millennials' preferences will have a deep, lasting impact on both commercial and residential development.
Source: Avison Young Topical Report,
Source: Avison Young Topical Report, “Millennials and Re-Urbanization of the City”

Millennials are too young to remember the urban crises of the 1960s and ’70s, and if they have their way in the coming years, the rundown cities of that era won’t return anytime soon, according to a new report on Millennials and their impact on urban real estate published by Avison Young.

The report, called “Millennials and Re-Urbanization of the City – Closer to the core: Millennials’ preference for amenities and connections reshaping communities in the U.S.,” notes that Millennial preferences promise to have a deep and lasting impact on cities, spurring both residential and commercial development and redevelopment.

Beginning in 2011, explained the report, U.S. urban areas started growing faster than suburban areas for the first time in 100 years–just as the Millennial generation of more than 75 million began their recovery from the recession, and took an interest in living and working in cities (with their employers soon to take notice.)

Among other trends initiated by the movement of Millennials into cities are the revitalization of long-suffering urban areas in Brooklyn, Detroit, downtown Los Angeles, downtown Houston and Uptown Dallas, among other places. The generation also is playing a part in the urbanization of smaller metro areas such as Austin and Nashville. Cities that were fully urban long before the Millennials became a demographic force, like San Francisco and Boston, are also experiencing further densification.

The report also noted that “urban-burbs” are creating places where walkable amenities, high connectivity, and city-center conveniences intersect with lower-rise density and improved affordability. Avison Young describes such neighborhoods as “hybridized” and more suited for a family, an important consideration now that the generation of 18- to 36-year-olds is having their own children.