Have you heard of New Urbanism? This term is new to my Gen-X ears but the evidence of new urbanism is all around. According to the Congress for the New Urbanism, a New Urban neighborhood is a place where people “work to build vibrant communities so people have diverse choices for how they live, work, and get around. They believe that well-designed cities and neighborhoods are crucial for our health, economy, and environment.”
So why is this important?
INFLUENCE OF MILLENIALS
The time has come. Millenials (18-35 years) are all grown up, leaving home, getting jobs, and starting their lives. Their impact on everyday life can not be ignored. As I was researching millennial statistics I found myself incredibly surprised at the far-reaching influence they already have, and have had for several years, on our society. Millennials determined the last two Presidential Elections, they now represent the largest living population (83-90 million) and make up the majority of the labor force in the U.S. (pew research)
HOUSING FOR 83 MILLION
What does this mean for housing? As the Millennials have grown up, graduated, and are working – they are now looking for homes to rent and buy; however, choices are minimal because of housing inventory shortages due to the sheer number of Millennials. In the next six years, they will account for the majority of home buyers. Many Millenials, 43% (statista.com), are choosing to rent for now and a large majority are still living at home… BUT they don’t plan to stay there and are ready to move out on their own. This means that we should see a continued increase in housing needs for a number of years.
Several years ago, the oldest Millennials sought to live in urban/downtown areas which brought new life to dilapidating downtowns and drove urban housing prices up, however, now these older members of the Millennial generation are having families and looking for less expensive options in suburban areas. The result is a high demand for housing under $250k. Even though they are moving out of traditional urban areas, they are taking the urban lifestyle with them.
Millennials are transforming the way the suburbs look. While they want more affordable and family-friendly options, they still want to keep much of their urban lifestyle and the values of sustainability and community. Thus, a trend of New Urbanism has gained considerable momentum. You have probably seen it but didn’t know what it was or how it came to be. New Urban neighborhoods are being built around cafes, boutiques, and microbreweries. Greenways instead of streets, environmentally-friendly homes, and walkable mixed-use communities are redefining how we live and interact with each other. Older neighborhoods are utilizing vacant lots and buildings to create their own New Urban look by updating these spaces with fresh, industrial businesses and food establishments.
NEW URBANISM IN COLORADO SPRINGS
An example in southern Colorado Springs of New Urbanism in an older neighborhood is the Ivywild community. A converted brick schoolhouse is now home to a brewery, a deli other locally-owned shops and meeting spaces. The surrounding neighborhood consists of older homes that need updating, however, the draw of Ivywild will bring the younger generation who wants to build up and transform the entire district using the New Urbanism philosophy. Another Colorado Springs community, Gold Hill Mesa, strategically planned their neighborhood around the concept of New Urbanism and offers multiple community benefits such as a gym, spa, art gallery, and coming soon, retail and food. Beautifully built townhomes and single-family homes are closely situated around lush greenways and all are centered around the central Community Center. (Check out our blog post about telecommuting and Gold Hill Mesa)
MOUNTAIN TOP NEW URBANISM
Recently I made a trip to Buena Vista, CO (just over an hours drive from Colorado Springs) and accidentally stumbled upon a new community, South Main. Situated just yards from the popular Arkansas river, it is a thriving kayaking and rafting community. It has adorable townhomes, a bustling microbrewery, and shops along the neighborhood streets. It was busy and vibrant even in the middle of winter (I went in February). Who knew that even this sleepy mountain town would attract the attention of Millennials, however, it makes sense as the town is situated among amazing year-round outdoor activities. Since Millennials value free time and are health conscious, and 69% believe they should have the option to telecommute at their job, a bustling community high in the mountains makes sense with this generation. Gen X and Baby Boomers are also happy benefactors of the younger generation’s creative drive.
What does this mean for you? Whether you are a Millennial, Gen-Xer, or Baby Boomer the New Urbanism trend will impact you as the demand for more New Urban developments increases. This might be a good time to invest in smaller homes in older neighborhoods. Check with your local realtor to discuss New Urban trends in your city. No matter where you live, this generation will look for homes built around community, sustainability, and accessibility.