Who Will Live Downtown?
We often encounter the question, who will live in downtown Bristol? To answer this question, one must first determine what downtown Bristol will be after a comprehensive and holistic redevelopment effort. As downtown Bristol stands today, the market is limited for residential and other uses within the downtown. Why? Because there is a lack of a cohesive downtown fabric and a true “sense of place”. Simply put, downtown is not a lively, active, walkable neighborhood with the correct mix of uses to provide for a vibrant place to live, work, shop or play. However, that will soon change.
Through the Public-Private partnership between The City of Bristol, the BDDC and Renaissance, along with efforts to work with current downtown property owners, downtown Bristol is about to be reinvented. The future for Downtown will be one of a mix of complementary uses that will be fostered by the introduction of significant residential living options around the Downtown. A well visioned and implemented master plan for downtown will attract key demographics that are looking for a more attractive lifestyle than can only be found in “boutique cities” such as Bristol. To learn more about these growing markets that will help propel Bristol into the coming years and decades as a City that will attract residents, visitors and businesses into its downtown, please read on.
A Cultural Renaissance
The country is currently on the precipice of a cultural renaissance. For the past 60 years, our nation's growth has been dominated by an auto-centric suburban sprawl mentality that has had a negative impact on the environment and people's quality of life.
The acknowledgement of these critical issues has resulted in a significant shift in the consumer preference of where and how people choose to live. Who we are and what we care about is changing and a new set of imperatives is emerging based on the desire for authentic experiences. These trends, coupled with the rising costs of residential living within first and second tier cities will result in an ever-increasing migration towards urban lifestyles within suburban and small city downtowns across the nation, creating an enormous market opportunity within these "Boutique Cities". This return to a more urban lifestyle ("Urban Suburbia") within a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood setting provides this authentic experience centered on quality of life issues.
Changing Consumer Preferences and the Return to Downtown Living
The primary market segments driving these fundamental changes include Baby Boomers and Young Professionals, many of whom are considered part of the "Creative Class" of workers (sometimes referred to as "knowledge workers"). Quality of life issues are at the top of their priority list, and if properly addressed, serve as a magnet for attracting this talented group — and the economic drivers that employ them. To address the changing needs of the American consumer, communities will have to provide the following attributes:
• Active, more engaging environments
• Artistic and cultural scenes
• Vibrant 24/7 economy filled with energy
• Preservation of a place's history
• Tolerance (openness and diversity)
• Economic sustainability and environmentally sensitivity
• Multi-use transit oriented options
• Located within Mega Regions
Renaissance intends to address the needs of the creatives by engaging this emerging market through crowdsourcing methodologies that have lead to the success of many technology offerings such as Amazon, Google and Wikipedia. Renaissance has retained the world's leading consultants in this field that will play an integral role with the Renaissance development team.
Recognizing the structural changes occurring in the real estate industry, Renaissance has created an innovative transit oriented downtown redevelopment model that will capitalize on this pent up demand.
To learn about our novel approach to downtown revitalization and redevelopment through our Unified Development Approach™, please click here.
A Sense of Urgency – The Time is Now!
The length of the current economic turmoil is unpredictable. However, Renaissance strongly believes that the timing of strategic acquisitions and the procurement of necessary entitlements must precede the upturn phase of the real estate cycle. This strategy will position the public/private partnership to capitalize on the re-emergence of the market.
It's not if, but when, history will repeat itself and this re-emergence will occur with a vengeance.
A Market Opportunity
Key market drivers point toward an exceptional opportunity for downtown redevelopment efforts. Two market segments that are driving this return to downtown living along transit lines are Boomers and Gen Y / Millenials, which represent nearly 150 Million people. Another trend that supports the need for significant downtown redevelopment is the bourgeoning market of the creative class (aka "knowledge workers"). In 1980, creatives represented only 12% of the workforce. Today they represent about 33%, but up to 75% of discretionary spending. Even more compelling is the fact that the creative class of worker will represent over 50% of our workforce within only 10 years.
Some other interest facts and stats that support the need for significant growth within transit oriented, suburban and smaller city downtowns are:
• U.S. Population to increase from 300 Million to 420 Million by 2050
• U.S. Urban Population (including urban nodes in suburban areas) to increase from 150 Million to 300 Million by 2050
• 61% of people surveyed who thought they would buy a house in the next three years are more likely to look for a home in a smart growth community rather than a sprawl community
• 30-40% of households want to live in walkable urban communities but only 5 to 20% of the current housing supply is in that category
• According to Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institution, 2/3 of the demand for walkable neighborhoods will be satisfied in the suburbs.
Municipalities that are able to meet the needs of these discerning markets will position themselves for success – socially and economically – for years to come.
For more information about the growing market preference for "Boutique City" living, please read our White Paper on the subject, prepared in conjunction with Zimmerman Volk and Associates, by clicking here.