How to attract a Millennial


The Millennial Generation comprises those who were born from 1980 to the early 2000s and now represents America’s young professionals who are graduating from college, getting their first and second jobs and buying homes. We’re now seeing where they want to live: downtown.

For the first time in decades, the population of American cities has grown at a faster rate than the suburbs. There is some speculation that this is a result of the recession, with urban dwellers remaining in place instead of moving to the suburbs with low and unpredictable home prices. Alternatively, there is evidence to suggest that the migration to the cities is more intentional for this generation.

Young professionals are now seeking different communities than the suburbs that their parents and grandparents had coveted for generations. Walkable, mixed-use communities are on the rise. A developer in Cleveland seized this trend and built one of the most desirable blocks in the entire city. Ten years ago, the Maron family bought up an entire block of the city where restaurants had gone out of business, retailers had failed, crime rates were high and there was little hope for residential use.

Here’s what it looks like now:

If You Build It, They Will Come: How Cleveland Lured Young Professionals Downtown

The block is thriving with outdoor seating, apartment buildings at capacity and successful retail. The project wasn’t immediately accepted by other entrepreneurs though; the Maron’s opened their own restaurants when others weren’t willing to take another chance on the neighborhood. By the time they opened a 224 unit apartment building on the block, the area was so popular that the building filled almost immediately.

Perhaps they’ve read The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook (by Tom Borrup).

The term creative community building describes efforts to weave multiple endeavors and professions into the never-ending work of building and rebuilding the social, civic, physical, economic and spiritual fabrics of communities. Creative community building engages the cultural and creative energies inherent in every person and every place.

Looking at the above picture of the block, it certainly seems like they’ve done that. This vibrant community in downtown Cleveland captures what many Millennials are looking for as they begin to live on their own. The area is walkable, there are residential options, dining and retail. It’s high-density, efficient land use with a markedly decreased rate of crime and it’s actually pretty cool.

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Posted on August 6, 2013, in Entrepreneurship, Food, Housing, Neighborhoods, Public Infrastructure, Regions, Transportation, Trends, Uncategorized, Urbanism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Can you name one area in the Lehigh Valley that could attract a Millennial ? Do we have a supply or demand problem in the LV?

  2. I think our cities are working on it. I could imagine the above image being in Allentown in 10 years time. I shared the article with the management at City Center. They replied that it is their vision, too. I’ve seen that area of Cleveland develop over time. It didn’t happen overnight.

  3. ah yes, the coveted Millennial demographic. The single young professional with disposable income. EVERY muni is after them. Why? Like seniors they are revenue without kids and strain on a school district.

    Recently, Lower Mac approved an upzoning to allow apartments on a commercial property. The rationale laid out by the developer was that the complex will attract “young professionals”. And yes, our current board ate it up. (not “going there” with the fact the president of the board was the realtor of the project….)

    Problem is, as the blog post outlines millennials aren’t interested in the burbs. Esp ones like LMT that have none of the amenities they want and are the absolute antithesis of a walkable community.

    I am one generation removed from a millennial in my early 30’s. (I think that puts me one up?) But I do have friends in the mid 20’s late 20’s young professional cohort. Very few are opting to live in places like LMT. I know 1 or 2 but most….They are off to the cities.

    That’s just my anecdotal evidence but it does tend to fall in line with the assumptions made in this blog.

    So yes, millennials were the golden ticket for a developer looking for zoning flexibility in LMT. Our officials were sold hook line and sinker on the millennial argument. Problem is no one questioned the rationale of why a millennial would choose LMT when they have options like South Bethlehem. Places that have the amenties they want. Restaurants, entertainment, jobs, walkability.

    Officials and developers really need to re-think the way we are growing if they want to make the millennial argument in LMT with a straight face.

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