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

If Millennials have their way in the coming years, the rundown cities of the 1960s and '70s won't return anytime soon.

Urban Portland, Ore.

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. Titled in full, the report is called “Millennials and Re-Urbanization of the City – Closer to the Core: Millennials’ Preference for Amenities and Connections Reshaping Communities in the U.S.”

The preferences of Millennials promise to have a deep and lasting impact on cities, spurring both residential and commercial development and redevelopment. Beginning in 2011, explained the report, for the first time in 100 years U.S. urban areas are growing faster than suburban areas—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. Also, cities that were fully urban long before the Millennials became a demographic force, like San Francisco and Boston, are 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.

Photo courtesy of Adam Jones, PhD