The AJC reports that Millennials are partially responsible for the quickly morphing skyline of Atlanta, and that might not be a good thing. In the article, numbers back up what most of us already knew — chiefly that Gen-Yers are interested in living in Atlanta's city center, close to work, walkable commercial areas and public transportation. With the focus on living in town, the 20- and 30-something crowd is overwhelmingly delaying or forgoing homeownership, bucking the trend of past generations. The AJC says this trend is directly affecting development patterns in Atlanta, as developers focus on providing rental units in staggering numbers. But could all of this be leading to the proliferation of monotonous glass and concrete towers? Have we reached the point of no return already? Will we look back in a decade and wonder how the bar for design could have been so low? Or will we simply be thankful for a more populated and vibrant inner city?
Atlanta is certainly a populous place, with the third largest housing market in the United States, according to local analysis firm Smart Numbers. Not unique to Atlanta, recently the trend of population growth has included the urban center rather than just the suburbs — overcoming the urban flight which started when the Greatest Generation was lured to the suburbs after World War II. The trend is hastened by Millennials' desire for urban-centric lifestyles.
Capitalizing on the renting ways of city-dwellers, developers have been fast and furious as they throw up towers to stay ahead of demand. Companies like Novare, who is responsible for three Skyhouses that all look pretty much the same, are creating homogenous glass and concrete towers that lack distinctive character. While the development of a lackluster skyline might be a bit disheartening, the general trend toward densification should be taken as an encouraging sign for the vitality of the city. Many predict Millennials will eventually purchase homes, and we should hope the interest in city-living will remain strong. But for now, with no lack of Millennial interest in the city, Atlanta's skyline is destined to change a whole lot more to accommodate the influx. Here's hoping the near-future includes a little variety.