Is Atlanta basically renting its crop of young professionals until they grow up, have kids and head for the big houses and soccer clubs of the suburbs? Or has a paradigm shifted in terms of the core city's long-term appeal? A fascinating USA Today article asks if the Millennial Generation will follow the suburban exodus of their grandparents or forge lives in the cities that successfully attracted them with condo towers, hip coffee shops and bike paths. While Atlanta isn't named in the piece, its recent history is more than applicable. The oldest bubble of Millennials (86 million strong) is turning 30 this year. Will they set their sites on suburbia? Can we expect the urban revival to sputter? What are cities doing about the potential loss of this stabilizing, tax-rich commodity? "It's important to compete with suburbs for people once they get a little older and have children," Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, told the newspaper. "So capturing people early on in their lives in a metro really matters."
Florida estimates that up to 95 percent of urban dwellers would have high-tailed to the 'burbs to find larger homes or to flee crime in years past; that percentage now hovers between 60 and 70 percent, he told the newspaper. An urban affairs professor likened the experience of graduates who have moved to American cities with a renewed focus on entertainment and transit to an extension of dorm life. "Cities assumed that they would get to the business of improving schools and providing more family services later," the professor told the newspaper. "Well, now it's later."
In Atlanta, the number of 25-to 34-year olds with four year college degrees or higher swelled by 61 percent between 2000 and 2009. But the population boost enjoyed by other cities didn't materialized here. To understand why, look deeper.
The 2010 Census showed the city of Atlanta had grown by a mere 3,500 people since 2000, despite the obvious influx of condo and apartment dwellers to many neighborhoods. As Creative Loafing noted that year, the unimpressive population growth might not be because people weren't moving to Atlanta, but rather because some people, blindsided by an economic collapse, moved out. The demolition of public housing — and high-vacancy rates in struggling neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures and mortgage fraud — is thought to have played a significant role.
If you live intown, share your philosophy on leaving — for the suburbs or elsewhere — one day. If you moved, share why.
· American cities to Millennials: Don't leave [USA Today]
· Can the Pending ATL Streetcar Transform Downtown [Curbed Atlanta]
· Atlanta's census numbers reveal dip in black population — and lots of people who mysteriously vanished [Creative Loafing]